Contre-chronique : Confusion bleue
First of all, I would like to thank for this great opportunity to make a personal response to the review of my album Confusion Bleue (Soul Note, 2010) by Luc Bouquet. I also need to thank for the honest opinion expressed in this review. I welcome differences opinions, because that’s how one learns about his/her weakness.
Having said that… As one can easily imagine, I disagree with most of the points raised in this review. But please know… this is NOT an emotional response! This is partially because (as a contributor for the Japanese magazine JAZZ TOKYO) I have reviewed some albums pretty negatively as well. I strongly believe in the freedom of opinion, and so of course, there is NO emotional grand for me to react to this less-than-positive review by Luc Bouquet.
In any case, I would like to clarify a few things below… But let’s start from one point I share with this reviewer: I totally agree with the opinion regarding Ross Bonadonna who contributed enormously to Confusion bleue and another album of mine Hommage an Klaus Kinski (Soul Note, 2007). Ross is to me the best kept secret of the fertile avant-garde/ experimental music scene of NYC. Despite his enormous talent, Ross is a modest person – likely the reason he has somehow managed to avoid getting a spotlight in his long musical career. But he is clearly one of the very talents needs to be heard by creative listeners.
But this appears to be the only thing Bouquet and myself agree for Confusion Bleue. For example, even though the reviewer points out the lack of direction, I am confident that the improvisation presented in this album had clear direction – actually had multiple directions UNLIKE most of so called ‘free improvisation’. The reviewer may have meant that the music lost ‘focus’ or ‘concentration’… But I do not believe this is the case. And actually, the band managed to achieve a great deal of musical concentrations throughout this album.
My main problem of most of FULLY improvised music is the monotonic nature of many performances. Or let’s say SINGLE-direction. And for experienced listeners, there is no need to present examples on this. I am not denying the value of such approach, and there are many (monotonic) free improvisations I admire (especially the ones by Euro masters, including Bailey, Portal, Parker, Favre, AMM, Centazzo, Guy, Schlippenbach and Riley). But my musical influences and interests are broader, and my goal is to go “beyond free”… I believe this multi-directional approach – successfully accomplished in this album (my opinion) – is one of the ways to achieve this goal.
I am also honestly very happy about the rendition of Blue in Green presented in this album. In fact, this was the first time I managed to realize my vision of standard playing – loose but structured spontaneous improvisation with over all respects to the melody and harmony. And guessing from the many positive reviews of Confusion Bleue published at various international media, I am happy to report that my above opinions are clearly shared by others. But of course, every creative listener (including critic) needs to have her/his opinions, just like every creative musician should also have her/his own. But no opinion is free from one’s subjective perception or ‘taste’. And as Bouquet concluded his review, the above disagreements appear to be largely due to a matter of personal ‘tastes’.
I am suspecting that he clearly did not like my preferences of sweet/romantic melodies. I had a similar experience with the famed avant-producer Leo Feigin (of Leo Records). While Leo gave very encouraging comments on New York Moments (Konnex, 2007) – the least ‘romantic’ album of my releases, he has told me several times that I am making a mistake by melding the syrupy romanticism with avant-garde ethic. But if I disclose that Jean-Jacques Goldman (!!!) was one of my musical heroes during my high school years in Japan (before I moved to the US for college) … A good French listener would understand that I am as Leo correctly described “incurable romantic”.
So please give it a try to my music, ONLY if you are curious of how an incurable romantic handles avant-garde!! You can listen (streamed) to the entire album of Confusion Bleue here. Thank you very much for the attention!
Nobu Stowe : Confusion bleue (Soul Note, 2010)
Confusion bleue : le titre est bien trouvé. Le bleu pour le jazz et la confusion pour cet amalgame de couleurs vives, de sursauts soniques souvent aléatoires.
Résumons : un trio qui improvise sans direction précise, qui fait résonner le désordre et s’y ensable avec enthousiasme. Une liberté choisie entre éclats et surgissements. Un free qui laisse perplexe, une virée binaire qui ne trouve pas destination, un magma stagnant percé d’effets électroniques. Parfois s’y glissent quelques assauts familiers (une guitare toute sharockienne et un alto convulsif, les deux à la charge de la seule et même personne : l’intriguant Ross Bonadonna) et l’oreille y trouve les repères qui lui échappaient jusqu’alors. Ailleurs, ce sont les sucreries indigestes d’un Keith Jarrett des pires heures que choisit de ressusciter Nobu Stowe dans un Blue in Green totalement vidé de sa substance originale. Ici, un disque qui interroge, questionne… Mais vous l’aurez compris : ce n’est pas vraiment ma tasse de bière !
Nobu Stowe : Confusion bleue (Soul Note)
Enregistrement : 2007. Edition : 2010.
CD : 01/ Introduction 02/ Premier mouvement 03/ Intermède I 04/ Deuxième mouvement 05/ Intermède II 06/ Blue in Green 07/ Troisième mouvement 08/ Intermède III 09/ Quatrième mouvement 10/ Epilogue : dans la confusion bleue
Luc Bouquet © Le son du grisli