New From Innova: Lukas Ligeti “Pattern Time”
Innova is the home for New Music in America
Lukas Ligeti Pattern Time
Innova 732 (2011)
Benoit Delbecq, piano
Gianni Gebbia, saxophone
Aly Keita, balafon
Michael Manring, bass
“With Pattern Time, Lukas Ligeti and his group introduce a style of music that is hard to categorize for the best of reasons: it is something the likes of which have not been heard before. Is it a new direction in jazz, perhaps more specifically in African jazz? Is it a new idiom in the otherwise unidiomatic realm of creative improvised music? Ultimately, such questions may be impossible to answer. This, however, is for sure: it is a fresh approach to both sound and rhythm, a musical conversation that uses a new syntax that comes across as immediately striking; an abstract language the listener can instantly understand — with enough motion to keep a restless octopus happy.
Invited by the Vienna Musik-Galerie festival in Austria to put together a group consisting of some of his favorite musicians, New York-based Ligeti assembled a quintet of kindred spirits united by their interest in new rhythmic possibilities in improvised music. Their communication was immediate, their interaction both playful and profound. Like in African music, patterns form the foundation of this music; like in jazz, the patterns are often implied rather than obvious. But here, both the musicians’ usual roles and the ways in which the patterns interrelate are blurred, resulting in a form of interplay that indicates directions heretofore unexplored. Time is treated topologically; it is expanded, contracted, twisted and turned to provide fresh and new ways of experiencing the beat. And often, there is no clear beat, though a sense of groove is never lost. This music takes the African approach to polymeters, which renders the rhythm both firmly grounded and ambiguous, to the world of experimental improvisation; it swings while eschewing all clichés.
Lukas Ligeti’s compositional input – mainly in the form of ideas, shapes, and patterns – provides the conceptual foundation upon which the ensemble builds its conversation, combining their individual, highly evolved musical vocabularies. The African influence is a cornerstone throughout. Ligeti has developed a choreographic, polyrhythmic drumming style based on the music of East Africa’s Kingdom of Buganda; his connection to the continent was deepened through numerous trips and collaborations with African musicians. In Côte d’Ivoire, he met Aly Keïta, one of today’s leading virtuosos of the balafon, the West African marimba, who has boldly introduced his instrument and traditions into a jazz environment. Parisian pianist Benoît Delbecq, in turn, has developed a completely original approach to jazz piano, preparing his instrument with wood and basing his rhythmic vocabulary on the chants of Ba’aka pygmies. His playing leaves an indelible mark on any music to which he contributes. Hailing from Sicily, saxophonist Gianni Gebbia has similarly crossed the bridge between traditional and experimental music, conjuring up the launedda, the ancient Sardinian bagpipe, and propelling it into the new millennium. And Michael Manring, one of the world’s most recognized electric bass players, built a new world of expression upon the foundations passed on to him by his teacher, Jaco Pastorius. It is a rare and welcome treat to hear him in a context where he is so unbound and free to experiment.
Together, these singular musicians create an architecture that is greater than the sum of its parts, and points to new paths, spaces, and structures to be explored. Like his father György before him, in his own way Lukas is revealing a new musical universe strikingly his own.
Innova is the recording arm of American Composers Forum, St Paul Mn.