The more I listen to jazz, the more I feel jazz is oriented toward a state where there is no basic, no root. No-root does not mean no-music. Rather, I think state of no root defines jazz. This is because jazz relies on the moment. An accidental result of a certain time, meeting of certain performers, or an involuntary result of more than the intentions of the performers, makes jazz.
The album of Tania Giannouli (piano), Rob Thorne (Taonga Puoro) and Steve Garden (sound treatments) is a good example. Tania and Rob met for the first time in a Greek recording studio where they improvised for two days. Nothing was prepared for the meeting. All they did was listen to each other and improvise, with no certainty that their efforts would lead to a finished album.
But they did produce an album, with new music that is neither Tania Giannouli or Rob Thorne. Both musicians performed as they always have, but this music is something else again — the atmosphere was quite different.
The two musicians felt the tension of being thrown into an unknown place. The space was not on any coast in Greece or in any forest in New Zealand. It was an imaginary space, a place you can't find anywhere on a map. The space wasn't a mythical terrain from Greek or Maori legends, nor a modern landscape where regional differences had disappeared. It was a creation.
This spatio-temporal music was possible because the performers walked in tandem, following a shared path, acknowledging their musical differences but listening closely to each other perform. That’s why we can associate their music with the interplay of jazz, even though their musical language is hard to categorise.
If the piano player had been someone other than Tania Giannouli, or if the taonga puoro player was someone other than Rob Thorne, the music would certainly have been different. Even if these two musicians had recorded a third day of music, it would have been different. The attraction of improvised music and the fundamental substance of jazz is right here in this album. It captures a moment from among countless musical moments, and invites the listener to dream of eternity.