Rui Eduardo Paes
The quest for an intercultural dialogue through improvisation shared by Greek pianist Tania Giannouli and taonga puoro (the generic name given to New Zealand's Maori instruments) exponent Rob Thorne on their album Rewa had previously led Evan Parker (sax) and Richard Nunns (taonga puoro) to record Rangirua (2001). But the Parker/Nunns project wasn’t a meeting of cultural traditions — Aotearoa meets New Orleans — so much as an expression of the elementary nature of spontaneous musical creation. What we hear on Rewa are voluntary and involuntary memories emerging from the depths of the musical legacies of both Maori and Greek cultures through temporal tracks that cross millennia.
Perhaps that's why the producer, mixing engineer, and head of Rattle Records, Steve Garden, thought it best to sculpt the resonances produced by the piano and wind instruments, because this is music that echoes songs that once existed, songs that have been forgotten but somehow remain deep in the subconscious of the two players. Thorne, himself of Maori ancestry, has done remarkable work in this respect, and Giannouli has always incorporated elements of Greek folk traditions into her compositions and improvisations.
Garden imbues every note of Giannouli’s piano with rich resonance, extending the harmonics to ensure that they don’t disappear in the air. Themes are developed and expressed as a result of the “free flow of unforced musical events as they happen in the moment", to quote Giannouli, initially with some degree of imperceptibility, because the marks of the past are indefinable, but also metaphorically. Garden uses reverb as a procedural resource rather than as an ornamental or merely symbolic ‘sweetener’. But he went further, assembling each composition from the materials recorded by the duo to bring additional layers of musical and thematic depth. But there is no doubt that what Giannouli and Thorne produced in the studio is full of the most essential, most pregnant of implications, reaching back to antiquity to offer a new and vital glimpse into the future. Recommended!