Music Reviews from the Staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House


June 28, 2019
Quand Fond La Neige, Où Va Le Blanc? - Christine Abdelnour & Chris Corsano
Label: Relative Pitch Records
Catalog #: RPR1088
Country: United States
Release Date: April, 2019
Media: cd entry

Imagine yourself, safe and warm, looking out through a window at a northern, wintry landscape. At the edge of your vision, you spy a pair of individuals, clad in white parkas, working in the snow, although because of the distance, the details of their activity remain unclear.

It is hard for the eye to see figures dressed in white when set upon a background of snow, because the contrast is poor. The term white noise describes sound without discernible pattern which contains many frequencies with equal intensities. Coupling these two statements, we arrive at the conclusion that it is hard for the ear to detect music when the sound is arranged against a blizzard of white noise. This, we suppose, is the opportunity provided by Christine Abdelnour and Chris Corsano in the time-honored pairing of saxophone and drums recorded on Quand Fond La Neige, Où Va Le Blanc?  They have intentionally minimized the contrast between saxophone and percussion, sound and silence, music and noise. It a recording for calisthenics of the adventurous ear and active imagination, drawing the pleasure of music-listening from a sonic collage possessing an ambiguous and fluid structure.

Christine Abdelnour "approaches sound as a malleable material, rich in concrete textures which combine breath, silence and countless acoustic distortions" in order to address "the relation between listening and concepts of perception, time and space."* Performing on the alto saxophone she explores a vast territory of non-idiomatic improvisation spanning from little, furtive sounds to more vocal peals and honks.

On Quand Fond La Neige, Où Va Le Blanc?, Ms. Abdelnour collaborates with the drummer, Chris Corsano (b. 1975, Englewood, New Jersey, United States), who also appears on this recording on slide clarinet. In this context, he shows no greater preference for conventional rhythms than Ms. Abdelnour does for conventional melodies. Their musical meeting occurs in a self-defined environment without any particular landmarks by which a listener might get preconceived bearings.

There are, of course, precedents for saxophone and drums duets. Some that come to mind immediately are Interstellar Space (John Coltrane & Rashied Ali, 1974), Birth and Rebirth (Max Roach & Anthony Braxton, 1978), or the pairing of Evan Parker & Han Bennink, as revisited on the recent archival release, Topographie Parisienne (Dunois, April 3d, 1981). Suffice it to say that the duet of Ms. Abdelnour and Mr. Corsano is not like any of these except for the similarity of instruments and the predilection for defying musical boundaries. These forebears are more closely linked to a recognizable tradition of jazz. A closer comparison is perhaps Aplomb (Michel Doneda & Lê Quan Ninh, 2015), although even here the similarity is largely conceptual rather than soundwise. Quand Fond La Neige, Où Va Le Blanc? provides a sound unto itself, an evolutionary branch, which, satisfyingly, appears to have little interest beyond the transient expression of a meeting of two musical explorers.



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