Downtown Music Gallery “échos la nuit” review

April 5, 2019

New York is filled with dozens (hundreds?) of sax players who continue to evolve and thrive, no matter how much recognition they get or deserve. Every week, the pool or ocean of strong saxists & composers gets deeper. Michaël Attias is one of those gifted players and composers who I’ve been following for a long while. With more than 40 discs as a leader or collaborator under his belt, Mr. Attias continues to make strides, delivering a diverse number of great discs and performances. Each of his half dozen discs as leader feature different personnel, except for his trio called Renku.

This is Mr. Attias’ first solo disc and on it he plays both alto sax and piano, often simultaneously. Attias mentions in the liner notes that it took 12 years of preparation and one hour of recording in order to complete this session. Although it is mainly improvised, sections were inspired by other musicians or composers (Masabumi Kikuchi, Steve Lacy & Morton Feldman) or based upon some previously written passages from his career. What is interesting is the way the the strings of the piano resonate to certain notes on the sax. It is rare for a musician to play piano and sax simultaneously, although I did catch [Jaki] Byard do that once at a solo concert in NYC. Mr. Attias seems to use the piano to mainly add a harmony to the notes he plays on the sax. Attias keeps things simple by playing small melodic fragments on the piano, adding sax notes here and there, as he adds shades or shadows to the proceedings. Attias seems to be taking his time and letting things unfold slowly, organically. There is [something] lovely, calm, rather quaint going on here. You have to adjust to the minimal nature of things here[;] every note and silence has meaning or feeling which is palpable. An utterly sublime effort that is more than a little haunting.

Bruce Lee Gallanter