Signal To Noise Magazine, Issue #60 (Winter
David Sait is a Toronto-based improviser and organizer who specializes in playing the guzheng. He's been responsible for a publication called SoundList, an e-mail list of local music events. The interest in outreach finds full creative form here in this literally-titled assemblage of sixty-second improvised solos. The notion of sixty-second pieces as a form has been explored before, most notably in Elliott Sharp's substantial State of the Union compilations beginning as an LP in 1982 and climaxing with vast two-(1996) and three-CD (2001) sets, but many of Sharp's inclusions were formal compositions and bands. Sait's program is very different, more personal, less doctrinaire --there are pieces here that are less than a minute and some that are more. His reach is large, taking in improvisers from numerous countries and scenes and embracing a range of technologies and instruments. There are improvisers working in ethnic modes and pentatonics (like Araz Salek, a Canadian playing tar, and others from Japan, Ukraine, Australia and Spain) and traditional genres (American bluegrass banjo player Todd Taylor), and others using electronics, radio, feedback and turntables. Some present non-idiomatic performances on traditional instruments (trombonist Jeff Albert and the oboists Kyle Bruckmann and Paulo Chagas among them); others employ novel instruments, like the Austrian chair-player Heribert Friedl and Johannes Bergmark of Sweden who plays platform. There are people here who are well-known, at least by improvised music standards (Andrea Centazzo, Gino Robair, Paul Dunmall, John Butcher and Lawrence Casserley), but the range of reputation extends to some who are unfamiliar, at least to this writer (guitarist Leanid Narushevich from Belarus is new to me, as is American violinist Carmel Raz). There's a strong Canadian contingent (including Michael Snow, John Oswald and Michael Keith), a stunning instant of almost absent trumpeting by Argentinean Leonal Kaplan, and a moment of tuneful keyboard and whistling by Italian Allesandro Allessandroni that is virtually definitive lounge music. The most remarkable part of Sait's achievement is the way he has combined far-flung contributors into groups of six pieces, which at times feel like rounds. The result is virtually composition, whether by affinity of timbre, pitch, style or mood, or contrast alone. It focuses attention on issues of context and editing in ways that may surprise, as well as presenting some of the ways an improviser can interpret the idea of the minute. As beautiful as some of the instants are, Sait's striking sense of organization lends a kind of authorship to this diversity.
- by Stuart Broomer