Le Quan Ninh & Guillermo Gregorio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Le Quan Ninh & Guillermo Gregorio


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French-Vietnamese percussionist Le Quan Ninh is a professed anarchist, and his highly intuitive collaborative improvising certainly hints at a desire to reconcile freedom with collectivism. On the new La Voyelle Liquide (Erstwhile), a superb collection of electroacoustic duets with fellow percussionist Günter Müller, the two are constantly on the move in search of common ground. Throughout the album's 75 minutes, their delicate metallic clangs, tings, and rattles move fluidly through a stream of warm Powerbook bubbles and splashes without ever falling into a fixed rhythm--they create a soothing chaos, if you will. During his formal training, Le Quan became fascinated with John Cage, and in 1986 formed the prestigious percussion quartet Quatuor Helios to explore his music and the work of other contemporary pioneers like Morton Feldman and Toru Takemitsu. He also works regularly with players like bassist Peter Kowald, "conductionist" and cornetist Butch Morris, and reedist Michel Doneda. But perhaps his finest achievement yet is the 1996 solo recording Ustensiles (For 4 Ears), where he complements a few conventional drums with, among other things, Chinese and Japanese bowls, metal rods, gongs, aluminum foil, and dried chickpeas, meticulously exploring their resonances by striking, dropping, and rubbing them, then altering the sounds by additional contact. Banging on pots and pans has never sounded this good before. In his Chicago debut, Le Quan will duet with reedist and composer Guillermo Gregorio, another sublime improviser with an appreciation for contemporary composition. Gregorio's beautiful new album, Degrees of Iconicity (Hat [Now] Art), employs graphic scores, inspired by constructivist artists like Tatlin and Moholy-Nagy, in which the players are given great interpretive leeway. John Corbett's Unheard Music Series imprint has also released Otra Musica, a fascinating collection of Gregorio's work from the 60s, when he still lived in his native Argentina; it includes Fluxus-related material, solo saxophone pieces, and tape experiments and in many ways foreshadows his current work. Friday, November 24, 10 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago; 312-666-4412 or 773-227-3617.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Pascale Para.

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