My mom sent me this a few years back (I’d guess she heard this NPR story) and my daughter grabbed it on the way out this morning. The outer sleeve made it hard to pull out of the tower, but she was resolute.
So often, when I think of free jazz, I think of chaos. Screeching saxes and dissonance. The feeling of being overwhelmed. (Side note: I read this article about Albert Ayler over the weekend and would recommend it.) By contrast, Sunrise is slight and delicate, like you could break it if you looked at it wrong. Yet these performances are built on the sturdy connection between drummer Paul Motian and pianist Masabumi Kikuchi — two jazz outsiders nearing the ends of their lives. Given how sparse these tracks are, and how close to the end these two men were, tones and sounds carry so much more weight than they would in other settings. When I’m listening to more upbeat jazz, single tones can seem cheap, because the big, impressionistic picture is really what matters. Here, every note is impressionistic. The whole is almost irrelevant.
Funny story — my daughter just started trying to sing actual songs (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is taking shape nicely), but for a while, I’ve been repeating random tones she blurts out to see if she’ll respond with the same note and how long we can go back and forth when she does. She gets a kick out of it and I like to think I’m planting musical instinct seeds here and there. That’s just what we ended up doing on this morning’s drive to daycare, and I bet Kikuchi and Motian would have approved.