When pianist Izumi Kimura encountered the music of Barry Guy and Gerry Hemingway - two titans in the contemporary and improvised music scene - she was compelled to reach out for collaboration, with a strong and intuitive belief. She invited each musician to perform duo concerts in 2017, followed by the trio project in 2018. Three musicians started the collaborative music making on a bright, crisp morning in February 2018, in Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Monaghan, Ireland, where they rehearsed for three days.

Their first trio concert on February 22nd, 2019, in St. Ann’s Church, Dublin, Ireland was recorded by Adrian Hart. The live recording is released by the Listen Foundation (Warsaw) under the title 'Illuminated Silence'.

The short documentary about the days in Monaghan and the concert in Dublin was directed and produced by Cormac Larkin (Hatch 21 Productions), Director of Photography, Piaras Mac Cionnaith



April 3, 2019
All About Jazz

Although Illuminated Silence is nominally billed as a trio of equals—and, musically speaking, it is just that—it was Japanese pianist Izumi Kimura's lead that brought long-standing musical collaborators Barry Guy and Gerry Hemingway together in Dublin for this live date at St. Ann's Church. Kimura is well known in Ireland—her home for over twenty years—as a brilliant technician and a fearless improviser, and it will come as no surprise to her admirers that Kimura more than holds her own with these two estimable international figures in improvised music.

Kimura had previously played live with both Guy and Hemingway in duo settings in 2017, but this trio first came together in The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, an artists' residential retreat in County Monagahan, where musical concepts were shaped prior to this recording. Although only three of the eight tracks are credited as improvised pieces, in fact, the five compositions—three by Guy, one by Kimura and one by Majorcan improvising pianist/composer Agusti Fernández—are simply frameworks for collective improvisation. The dramatic calling card "Intro," which explodes with a hammered two-note piano motif, sets the tone with its tumultuous peaks and tension-filled exploratory plateaus, even in the quietest moments.

The waxing and waning of the collective voice on the lyrical "Blue Horizon" grabs—and holds—the attention as much as the individual virtuosity on show. Here, the ghost of a Japanese melody briefly haunts Kimura's flowing run, on a tune which captivates even more as the trio's steam dissipates. The playing is at its most abstract on "Improvisation on a Painting," where the jagged-nerves intro—all scratching skin, wheezing strings and stabbing keys—gives way to less fractured, sotto voce impressionism. Melody marks both entry points for Kimura's "The Willow Tree Cannot Be Broken by the Snow," a rhapsodic meditation punctuated by unaccompanied drum and bass solos—the storm before the calm.

The conceptual nature of this music is encapsulated in Guy's reading of a poem by 8th century Chinese Zen teacher Sekito Kisen, by way of introduction to "Improvisation on Light and Shadow": "In the light there is darkness, but don't take it as darkness, in the dark there is light, but don't see it as light. Light and dark oppose one another like the front and back feet in walking." Kisen, you feel, would have recognized the symbiosis in the trio's silences and tumult, in its deft tip-toeing and intense stride, in its caressing play and avalanches of emotion, its simultaneous embrace of form and freedom.

All these contrasts inhabit Guy's "The Ancients," where the lyrical, emotive intro and outro bookend some of the trio's most charged and compelling interplay. The colors are more subtle on the haunting "How to Inhabit a Room You're Already In"; as Kimura winds a slow, quasi-baroque course, Guy's bending notes evoke a Korean gayageum, while Hemingway alternatively draws cries from his cymbals and sings into his drum-skin. The trio rounds out a consistently arresting performance with the upbeat "Finding It," which careers back and forth between boppish rhythm, heady improvised exchange and ruminative abstraction.

The sustained applause from the audience acknowledges an inspired performance, but you suspect that those present are not the only ones for whom the full force of Kimura, Guy and Hemingway's courageous musical dialogue can only be put into context by the ensuing silence, relative as that may be.
Track Listing: Intro; Blue Horizon; Improvisation on a Painting; The Willow Cannot be Broken by the Snow; Improvisation on Light and Shadow; Ancients; How to Go into a Room You Are Already In; Finding It.
Personnel: Izumi Kimura: piano; Barry Guy: bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums.

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ILLUMINATED SILENCE by Maciej Lewenstein

Performed and recorded in February 2018 in St. Ann’s Church, Dublin, Ireland, the disc was released in January 2019. Still, I can predict in February 2019 that this is going to be one of the best piano trio albums of the year 2019. It is so good, that is hard to imagine something better. But, of course, the competitions does not sleep: Wiktor Oleszak, Elisabeth Harnik, Jordina Milla, Eva Risser, Kaja Draksler, Irene Aranda, Megumi Yonezawa, and last but not least Marco Mezquida, who is truly very serious about recording free improvised music!

"Illuminated Silence", obviously, reminds me of those records of Barry Guy that, in short, are less free improvised, but more beautiful. These, surely, include the records of the Aurora trio with Agustí Fernández and Ramón López, or the "Homer" series with Marilyn Crispell and Paul Lytton. At the same time it is very different. The Aurora trio clearly is dominated by the Mallorca-Catalunya-Spanish roots of Agustí. The "Homer" trio is more abstract, and perhaps more focused on the true literary inspiration. Here, the music seem to be "more simple", but in reality it is not. This incredible album starts with "Intro", with amazing lines by Barry. "Blue Horizon" is a ballad of extra-terrestrial beauty. "Improvisations on the Painting" are also marvelous - the bass and drums entries are truly incredible. "The Willow Tree Cannot Be Broken By The Snow" is another ballad of the infinitely beautiful dimension. "Improvisation on Light and Shadow" are based, as I understand, on the wonderful poem from Sandokai by Sekitō Kisen (700-790):

In the light there is darkness,
but don't take it as darkness;
In the dark there is light,
but don't see it as light.
Light and dark oppose one another
like front and back foot in walking.

"Ancients" is perhaps the most "traditional" track, reminding me, at least in the initial parts, of Bobo
Stenson or... RGG. "How To Go Into A Room You Are Already In" is a masterpiece of quiet, frugal and modest playing. An absolutely wonderful piece of outstandingly beautiful music. On the closing "Finding it" we return back the aesthetics of Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, reworked carefully for the XXIst century. Amazing stuff, amazing album, amazing music!!! As a whole, not comparable to anything I know.


ILLUMINATED SILENCE Listen Foundation FSR01/2019