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Dawn of Midi - "First"

This trio, pianist Amino Belyamani, bassist Aakaash Israni and percussionist Qasim Naqvi, has created a debut disk that draws the listener into a world of sound interaction, spontaneous composition and melodic possibility. This is the kind of music that you can play over and over and still discover something new. It's as easy to be seduced by the funky rhythms of "Hindu Pedagogy" as it is to fall under the contemplative spell of tracks like "Civilization of Mud and Ember" and "One." On the latter cut, the rich bass tones mesh well with the fullness of the piano chords and the short, repetitive, single-note fills. All the while, percussionist Naqvi weaves his sounds through the quiet conversations (throughout the CD, Naqvi "colors"the pieces as opposes to "driving" the music.) "No Abhor" blends introspective piano, moments of silence, throbbing bass, and fascinating movement around the drum kit into a dramatic piece that feels like a narrative - near the end, there's a short, bluesy, section that reflects the possible influence of Keith Jarrett.

Belyamani, who studied at the California Institute for the Arts, also works with Naqvi (another Cal Arts attendee) in the Axis Trio (whose new CD will be released in the summer on Accretions ) can mesmerize a listener with the simple power of one note; he does so, quite dramatically, on "In Between", the 11 minute spell-binding meditation that closes the program. The sudden shifts in dynamics on "Laura Lee" also have drama, especially in the pianist's twists and turns. Bassist Israni's playing also has a contemplative nature. This music rarely falls into "grooves" so he serves as melodic counterpoint on "Tale of Two Worlds" and percussive counterpoint on "The Floor."

Reviewers like to give readers solid descriptions of the music, such as "hard-bop" or "mainstream", but Dawn of Midi has created a program of music that defies categorization. Come to this music with open ears and the rewards are great.

     - Richard Kamins, Step Tempest

It's unusual to see such a new band receiving what seems to be almost universally high praise from the critics, indicating that, while Dawn of Midi may not be receiving the jazz press hype they perhaps deserve, there is definitely something rather special going on here. There's no point in worrying whether to call this 'jazz' or 'free improvisation' (though all the pieces are improvised, the vocabulary often has a distinct jazz edge to it). Rather, this group has come about at a time when such worries seem irrelevant, when statements of intent can be made through music rather than ideological or theoretical proscriptions; what matters most of all is the creation of serious and engaging sound.

The record opens with quiet but purposeful bass and drums from Aakaash Israni and Qasim Naqvi, soon joined by the piano of Amino Belyamani. There's no real sense of anyone 'soloing' as such; rather, the three musicians collaborate to create music that contains both the melodic/harmonic legacy of jazz and the textural approach of free improv, but prioritises neither. As they write on their website, ÒIn the global art music setting, one can sense a paradigm shift that veers towards an appreciation of timbre, color, and the silences that frame a musical offeringÉIn this age of modern improvisation where the distinctions between musical normatives are blurred, DOM's thematic and timbral approach is reminiscent of many genres bound in one simultaneous moment.Ó Without the strictures of chord changes or the 'theme-solos-theme' template, the improvisations are nevertheless full of memories, fragments, wisps of genre, of music heard and absorbed by the players. But this never degenerates into a merely banal quoting of genre; instead, the kinship between different musics is recognized as the background to the creation of new sounds and discoveries. It's a way of 'making it new' without trying too hard to do so: innovation by stealth, if you like, or innovation by degrees, with the traditions of the past as a rich well to draw on rather than a burden or hindrance.

There's nothing flashy or self-consciously dramatic here; the tracks rise and fall, dip and sway, moving away before you can pin them down. Part-way through 'Laura Lee', the piano suddenly introduces a meltingly affective, melancholic chord which feels perfectly appropriate, though it doesn't obviously arise from the territory the trio has just been exploring - and then, even before the sustain-pedall'd echoes of that chord have faded away, Belyamani starts repeating a note, not quite hammering, not quite feathering it. What follows is the most exquisitely judged use of space, bass and drums working in perfect tandem with Belyamani's odd pauses, which are longer than the momentum of the music might lead one to expect, but shorter than a fully-fledged 'silence'. It's as if something really lyrical, flowing, song-like is about to emerge, but is dampened, broken up, forced back underground. This suggestion of what might have been - an allusion to what has not yet come to pass - imparts a wonderful sense of openness. This is a world of possibility in which choices are made at every turn; you can hear the players thinking this music through as they are playing it. Which shouldn't lead to the usual accusations of 'cerebral' and 'intellectual' music, as opposed to music from the heart, from the gut - what Dawn of Midi exemplify is that that supreme control goes hand in hand with the creation of emotional states. This is music tied to the motions of the body and the motions of the mind.

I may not have been very specific in what I've said so far, and it's perhaps best to discover the various techniques and variations DOM spin through real time listening rather than after-the-fact criticism. That said, I will note something that happens quite a lot on the record: an emphasis on detail, one note or minute phrase being returned to again and again, all the development occurring in variations of touch. Mid-way through track five, 'Tale of Two Worlds', there appears a minimal repeated figure, sounded with a cross between bluesy insouciance and something almost despairing, punctuated by the dampened dabs of a note sounded while the finger clamps down the vibrations from the string. One is drawn into this, forced to examine the implications of a musical phrase that one might have overlooked in the general development of the piece; it's as if the players have suddenly decide to zoom in, to focus very closely and specifically for a couple of moments, and one realizes that this could happen at any time, one realizes the trio's great awareness of the myriad of possible implications in everything that they play.

For the ultimate example, listen to the last track, 'In Between', where a single piano note (and then a small number of alternating notes) sounds out again and again, for minutes at a time, bass and drums gradually boiling and bubbling underneath, a chord in the other hand supporting but never fully developing the scant material, all creating a kind of momentum through stasis; and, finally, a meditative quality, the piano reminiscent of tolling bells, the bass plucking understated counter-melody, drums with the faintest taps and splashes, a trance with off-centre rhythmic accompaniment. Once this lengthy section finally finishes, and the CD ends, something still seems to hang in the air - the silence itself turned into music by what preceded it. How the music will restart on DOM's next release only time will tell, but no doubt it will flow as naturally from the silence as it flowed into it. This is an extremely fine debut recording, one which I have no hesitation in recommending.

     - David Grundy, Streams of Expression

Qui sont-ils? D'où viennent-ils?

Aakaash Israni (cb) vient d'Inde, Amino Belyamani (p) du Maroc et Qasim Naqvi (dm) du Pakistan. Ils se sont rencontrés, pour la plupart d'entre eux, au California Institut Of Arts. Ils ont participé, chacun de leur côté, à différentes formations (Axis Trio, Progressive Youth Club, etc.). Ensemble, ils ont formé Dawn Of Midi, collectif qui se partage entre New York et Paris. Leur musique est largement improvisée et mélange jazz, musique contemporaine ou classique et quelque chose d'indéfinissable et de très personnel. «First», leur premier disque vient de sortir chez Accretions, et c'est plutôt… captivant.

Dès le début on plonge dans un univers hypnotique fait de désordre et de bruits sourds. «Phase In Blue» déboule et s'écroule. Les notes de piano roulent et déferlent en cascade, dans une sorte de non-rythme, mais avec une certaine cadence. Le trio serait-il inspiré par quelques expérimentations de Paul Bley?

La musique s'immisce en vous, insidieusement. Elle avance par à-coups.

«Laura Lee» se déploie en improvisation très libre et la contrebasse marque une pulsion irrégulière. Il émane cependant de ce chaos, une certaine sérénité, comme une perte de contrôle maîtrisée. Dawn Of Midi joue le dépouillement, l'effilochage de thèmes, le déshabillage de sons. Le trio échafaude une atmosphère assez homogène et explore les déstructurations en tout genre. Qasim Naqvi fait rebondir les baguettes. Amino Belyamani plonge dans le piano pour en pincer ou griffer les cordes, avant d'initier des motifs presque inspirés d'une «Gnossienne» de Satie («The Floor»). Il suspend le temps et laisse à Aakaash Israni l'occasion d'exciter sa contrebasse nerveusement. Puis, le mystère s'invite, la contrebasse se fait menaçante et la batterie inquiétante («Tale Of Two World»). Plus loin, «No Abhor» se disloque.

Cet album nous ballote entre la brillance et l'obscurité. Le contemporain côtoie la musique concrète. On sonde les sentiments. On est en terre inconnue et étrangement, dans cette musique fantasmée, on s'y sent bien. On flotte entre deux mondes. Comme dans un demi-sommeil, entre rêve et réalité.

L'interaction entre les membres est indéniable. On les imagine plus jouer sur les sentiments et les émotions que sur des grilles ou des formes musicales structurées. Tout est très organique. Seul «Hindu Pedagogy» semble se laisser dompter quelque peu.

Le trio parvient à nous entraîner dans un monde minimaliste, abstrait et lyrique, et nous tient en haleine tout au long d'un disque totalement réussi. Avec peu d'éléments, Dawn Of Midi arrive à donner de la puissance à sa musique. Une puissance sèche, dense, compacte, faite de silences et de retenues. Alors, en espérant voir un jour ce groupe sur scène, on y retourne, comme pour dénouer un écheveau, comme pour y trouver les indices d'une enigme. Car «First» est intrigant et Dawn Of Midi un trio à découvrir.

Dans le même ordre d'idée, si vous êtes sensibles à cette musique, allez jeter un coup d'oreille du côté d'Insubordinations: des choses comme bBlunk, Eve Risser ou Sébastien Cirotteau ne devraient pas vous laisser indifférents.

     - Jazzques

Initially a little hard to listen to for any regular Jazz enthusiast, though after a few goes (and reflections) I found this album to be a demonstration of great live performance, though mysterious and intriguing it seemed. I found the long term charm evidently more fulfilling and ultimately absorbing more than any instant 'jazz' fix that temporarily satisfied.

Playful and challenging, Dawn of Midi jump and scamper through 'First' with their own form of experimental jazz moves. They utilise silence and pause as much as their use of dense activity and cajole each other through instrumental forms of conversation, collaborative monologue and even the occasional slur of ambience.

Made up of Pakistani percussionist Qasim Naqvi, Indian contra-bassist Aakaash Israni and Moroccan pianist Amino Belyamani, the trio make up a unique expressionist performance. Making a use of spontaneous phrasing and dialogue resulting in a range of narrative and instrumental fluidity.

DOM's approach to form and flow is the pleasurable characteristic, leaving conventional composition far behind. They focus on making a uniquely dynamic impression through an array of unpredictable moves, casting off any linear model within the familiarity of acoustic instruments.

However, they seem to present little apparent context, leaving the listener hanging on for comprehension. The result is a mixture of satisfying bewilderment and a wondrous anxiety of stop and start movement which may well be DOM's open ended message, make of it what you will.

Dawn of Midi's delivery and conviction is warm and compelling with a colourful and vast narrative, a must listen for any fans of the experimental and a point of reference for more mainstream projects like The Cinematic Orchestra's live scoring of 'Man with the Movie Camera' and hypnotic Australian trio 'The Necks'.

     - Matt Synthia

"Dawn Of Midi" is something else. The trio, consisting of Qasim Naqvi from Pakistan on percussion, Aakaash Israni from India on bass, and Amino Belyamani from Morocco on piano, form, despite their different nationalities a really strong unit, playing minimalist open-ended improvisations, quite sensitive and/or intense, often eery, with unusual tempo changes and punctuation, very hypnotic, like waves lapping at the shore, retreating and coming back. Their stubborn focus on their quite special musical concept gives this album a fantastic coherence, something you listen to in one go, with all pieces fitting fitting perfectly into the whole. Wonderful free lyricism and suspense at the same time. The question is whether this will prove to be sufficient to go on this mode without becoming overly repetitive, but at least for one album, it's a sheer delight from beginning to end.

     - Stef Gijssels , Free Jazz

A NYC/Paris based piano trio with Qasim Naqvi (drums, toys), Aakaash Israni (bass) and Amino Belyamani (piano). Maybe it's just me, but almost every time I hear a pretty good jazz pianist these days, I hit on Paul Bley. My guess is that Bley was, in many respects, ahead of his time and over the last decade or so, many folk are catching up, not a bad thing. This trio has something of his improvisational feel (not compositional), which they weld with a certain amount of experimental techniques including prepared piano. All three musicians are quite strong and, more importantly, show a good amount of restraint, allowing each other ample space in which to operate. Israni has a sound that's both large and nicely dry while Naqvi is light and fluid, making for a tasty combination. Belyamani makes sparing use of preparation but when he does, it's an effective color, not used for mere decoration. Listeners searching for rich, post-Bley jazz would do well to check this out.

     - Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

Dawn Of Midi are a trio based in NY and Paris, who despite their name do not use digital or computer instruments on First (ACCRETIONS ALP048CD) but instead operate a traditional acoustic jazz set-up of piano, bass and drums to deliver stark and skeletal updates on the kind of deep-underground free modern jazz that sometimes surfaced on the ESP-Disk' label in the early 1960s. Interestingly, none of the performers are strictly Afro-American, instead coming from Pakistan, India and Morocco. There's a lot to be said for their spartan sound, rendered with punchy clarity by their recording engineer Steve Rusch, which exhibits a high degree of interest in what they call 'the timbral possibilities of wood and metal'.

     - Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector

Sous une pochette look ECM, la musique lorgne plus qu'agrŽablement du mme c™tŽ. Le trio du pakistanais Naqvi, de l'indien Israni et du marocain Belyamani pourrait s'accommoder d'une prise de son moins abrupte que celle de Steve Rush, mais son travail apporte une grande lisibilitŽ du jeu sans jamais couper les liens entre les instruments, cette subtilitŽ n'est pas courante, il faut la saluer.

Le trio est trs soudŽ, sa musique pourrait rappeler celle de Marylin Crispell dans la mme formation, avec une cohŽsion plus improvisatrice, des r™les moins fixes. Les trois musiciens jouent sur les catŽgories musicales classiques mais s'appuient aussi avec beaucoup de pertinence, sur l'attaque, les timbres, les vibrations parasites, les ambigu•tŽs sonores et construisent collectivement une musique qui semble s'Žpanouir tout naturellement. Une mention toute spŽciale au percussionniste Quasim Naqvi dont le jeu Žconome concourt ŽnormŽment ˆ mettre en valeur ses partenaires. Ils font passer le trio post-evans ˆ l'impro sans renoncer au charme puissant de la souplesse harmonique, mŽlodique, rythmique, thŽmatique, infusŽe dans le jazz par la gŽnŽration prŽcŽdente. Un vraiment beau disque, une sorte de ma”trise tranquille dans la recherche (et qui ne l'abolit pas), une claire dŽcision de la musique qu'on veut jouer, une considŽration et une connaissance rŽflŽchie de la musique qui a prŽcŽdŽ.

     - Noël Tachet, Improjazz

Un joli disque d'improvisation, inspiré et rondement mené par des musiciens de talent qui m'étaient inconnus: Qasim Naqvi (percussioniste pakistanais), Aakaash Israni (bassiste indien) et Amino Belyamani (pianiste marocain). Une musique tendre, fortement ancrée dans le jazz, avec des éléments expérimentaux. J'ai surtout accroché sur "In Between", pièce qui conclue le disque sur un mode approchant beaucoup The Necks. À réécouter pour voir si ce ne serait pas une perle discrète, à tout hasard.

     - François Couture, Monsieur Délire

Dawn of Midi sind Qasim Naqvi (dr, perc, Pakistan), Aakaash Israni (Kontrabass, Indien) und Amino Belyamani (p, Marokko). Das Trio spielt free form Jazz ohne konkrete ethnische Einflüsse, die es sicher gibt, ohne dass sie den Sound bestimmen.

Die drei illustren, ausgezeichnet inspirierten und handwerklich-technisch begnadet versierten Musiker gehen mit ungeheurer Energie ans Werk. Alle drei sind gleichberechtigt und spielen so selbstbewusst und energisch, und dabei so aufeinander eingespielt, dass kein Instrument die Songs mehr dominiert als jedes andere. Rhythmus, Melodie, Harmonie - herkömmlich ist hier nichts und letztlich gar nichts. Die inspirativen Klänge haben enorm Flair, obschon die Harmonien bisweilen sehr abstrakt sind und harsche Klänge einbeziehen. Lyrik und Sanftheit gehen mit nervöser Härte und forschem Spiel Hand in Hand. Zu verspielt krümeligem Schlagzeug und wie übend satt wühlendem Bass sitzt ein lautes, rasantes Pianospiel im Vordergrund, bis der Bassist vorsprengt, einen kurzen Moment eine Variation in die Bühnenmitte schiebt und vom Schlagzeug überholt wird, das spielerisch und keck ins forsche Basssolo haut und die Energie des Stückes völlig verändert, während der Pianist plötzlich im Off auf den Tasten träumt und elegische Mattigkeit fließen lässt.

Das Trio hat eine starke Sensibilität füreinander, und ebenso für die Stimmung, die Atmosphäre ihrer freien Kompositionen. Allerdings sitzt in zwei Tracks Pianist Amino Belyamani für Minuten auf einem Ton, spielt ihn immer und immer wieder, wozu Aakaash Israni und Qasim Naqvi eine enorm virtuose Duoimprovisation spielen. Jedoch, diese Dominanz und penetrante Wiederholung dieses einen Tones ist anstrengend und fordert zuviel Aufmerksamkeit ein, die im Nachgang zuerst ermüdet und die Neugierde auf diese beiden Songs verblassen lässt.

Schade, denn das rein akustische Album hat einen außergewöhnlich feinen Klang - für diese Art freier Musik. Weit entfernt von der Krachigkeit des harschen Free Jazz, eher locker zwischen Avant Jazz und freier Improvisation mit durchaus Humor und steten verblüffenden harmonischen Lösungen mäandernd, bringt das Trio seine Musik - mit genannten Ausnahmen und auch dort nur partiell - grandios zu Gehör. Bemerkenswerte Band, ein Album, das nur unbedingt den Jüngern der Improvisationsszene ans Herz gelegt sei.

     - Volkmar Mantei, Ragazzi Music

Es wurde bald dunkel. V2 Schneider setzte sich Kopfhörer auf und fiel tief in den entfesseltesten, sehnsüchtigsten, melancholischsten Freejazz, den er seit Jahren gehört hatte. Das Trio Dawn of Midi spielte in der Besetzung Piano, Kontrabass, Schlagzeug.

     - Max Dax, Dissonanz, Sex Magazine

Kada se susretnete sa debi albumom mladih muzičara nepoznatog sviračkog bekgraunda, kao što je to ovde slučaj, i još vidite da je u pitanju marokansko-indijsko-pakistanska kombinacija u klasičnom klavir-bas-bubanj šablonu, predrasude su neminovne. Ako ipak pokušamo nekako da ih zanemarimo ostaju pitanja - šta je to što ovi momci nude, a da ih može izdvojiti od gomile već etabliranih pijanističkih džez kolektiva, i da li su dovoljno sposobni da privuku pažnju ljubitelja improvizovane muzike koji traže nešto što će ih “uzdrmati” i odvući u nepoznatom pravcu?

Odsustvo očekivanog dovoljno je da zaintrigira za početak. Marokanski pijanista Amino Belyamani, indijski basista Aakaash Israni i pakistanski bubnjar i perkusionista Qasim Naqvi na svom debiju ne nude etno-fjužn koktel egzotičnih krajeva odakle potiču. Ali zato je tu punokrvni improvizovani pijanistički džez koji će malo koga ostaviti ravnodušnim.

Snaga, koherentnost i savršen osećaj za nadahnutu improvizaciju čine ovaj neobičan akustični trio primamljivim za muzičke sladokusce. Misteriozni klavirski liricizam, apstraktni ritmovi i elastični zvuci kontrabasa u međusobnoj improvizacijskoj igri, osnovna su žila kucavica muzike ovog benda.

Povezanost i razumevanje aktera je perfektno. Muzičari imaju nepogrešiv osećaj i kada treba stati i umiriti se, i kada nastave muziciranje u raznovrsnim kombinacijama, nikako ne zvučeći rastrzano ili nedorečeno. Oni nam predstavljaju s jedne strane suptilnu, osećajnu i duboku, a nasuprot tome i veoma snažnu i dinamičnu muziku. I pored ovih kontrasta, album zvuči kao zaokružena celina lišena besciljnog lutanja i prevelikih “iskakanja” koja vode u besmisao.

Za Dawn Of Midi se može reći da su zahtevni za slušanje, ali ne i depresivni ili uznemirujući. Od samog početka i “izlomljene” teme Phases In Blue, pa sve do kraja i jedanaestominutne hipnotičke In Between, albumom provejavaju tamni tonovi, ali u njihovoj igri prepunoj obrta i skrivenih detalja ova muzika zvuči veoma izazovno.

Skepsa koja je postojala pre susreta sa debijem ovog mladog internacionalnog trojca gubi se već posle prvih taktova i prerasta u pozitivno iznenađenje. Nepoznanica koja ostaje jeste pravac u kome muzičari, sa svakim ponovnim preslušavanjem, odvlače slušaoce u zavisnosti od njihovog senzibiliteta i trenutnog raspoloženja. Jedno je sigurno - gde god krenuli sa Dawn Of Midi, avantura je zagarantovana.

     - Predrag Vlahović, Jazzin


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