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Paul Plimley – piano
Barry Guy – bass

"... What pianist Paul Plimeley and Barry Guy share is an approach to improvisation that is imbued with a vigorous physicality. Both are free, abstract players, but it is an abstraction formed as much by an immersion in the joyous, energetic physical act of exploring and extending their instrument as it is by a keen sense of the form and shape of free improvisation. This live duet meeting captures the two players at the top of their form. Guy seems to shine in almost any context, and here he exhibits his mastery at placing the bass on equal footing in improvisational settings. Aside from his well-documented bristling intensity and inventiveness on the bass, Guy excels at being a careful and thoughtful listener. One minute he is guiding the improvisations with a dark, beautiful arco line, and the next he is hammering percussive salvos against Plimley's resounding thunder...."
(Michael Rosenstein)

Paul Plimley is a remarkable pianist who can play with as much power as any free player can muster (yes, even as much as Cecil Taylor, whom he echoes here on occasion – although I don't think Plimley has played the tremendous marathons of energy that are Taylor's specialty), as well as with surpassing delicacy and grace (for example, on Joe McPhee's 1995 Sweet Freedom, Now What? with frequent partner on bass Lisle Ellis). Barry Guy, of course, is the consummate bassist, the linchpin of Parker/Guy/Lytton and the majordomo of the London Jazz Composer's Orchestra. Sensology, their collaboration of improvisations, is a marvelous recording.

The very first track, "This is not much less than flat," demonstrates the range of both players. Plimley lingers long in Taylorville, but returns to a series of light block chords; Guy plays his bass as if it is a drum, a flute-anything the occasion calls for. On Short steps until it finally dawned, Plimley sets up some shimmering figures for Barry's bow. Rolling agreement is a feature for Guy's scrapings on a setting of gruff low tones from Plimley.

A few brief excursions set up the title track, which is the centerpiece and longest track on the disc. Skittering figures create a field of tactile energy; Guy demonstrates his razor-like mastery with the bow. Plimley is everywhere: nods to Taylor, Olivier Messiaen, Stravinsky, whatsodam. This pair is thoroughly in sync with each other, and constantly creates inventive and ear-catching effects.

Other tracks deserve special mention: What to do, featuring a convincingly quizzical Plimley; the aloof cool of Jazz for now and never more, and the stinging Joyous absence of disco. But this album is full of first-rate free improvisations by two masters, and is thus highly recommended.
(Robert Spencer)

Sensology Animation

By Michel Gagné , Published on Aug 3, 2010

Back in June 2006, I was invited to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival by Coastal Jazz's manager of artistic programming, the amazing Rainbow Robert. That's where I heard piano improvisor, Paul Plimley for the first time. As Paul played, I closed my eyes and had an intense synesthetic experience. When the show ended, I immediately started feeling a compulsion to express in animation what I had just experienced. I shared my thoughts with Rainbow and to my delight, she said to me, "That's why I brought you here, I was hoping you'd say that!" I've wanted to do an abstract animated film ever since I discovered the work of Oscar Fischinger, Norman Mclaren, Kandinsky, Yves Tanguy and many others. I knew that Paul's music, was the perfect catalyst to get started on such a project. Upon returning to my studio, I immediately got a hold of several musical pieces by Paul and started experimenting with animation. After a few weeks of trial and error, I started animating a musical triptych from the album, "Sensology": a brilliant duo with bassist Bary Guy, which was recorded on November 9th, 1995, at the Western Front in Vancouver, Canada.

The creation of this film was a true spiritual and artistic journey. Sometimes, I felt like I was channeling the images. I did no storyboards and virtually no preliminary work. I animated in a stream of consciousness, one frame at a time at a rate of 30 frames per second. The shapes revealed themselves as I listened to the music over and over again. The process was intensely focused and required large amount of concentration. I was becoming part of the music and expressing my creativity at its rawest and most primal. Like Kandinski tought us, every shape and sound has a equal vibration in the soul. When Paul Plimley saw a portion of the film for the first time, he said to me with tears in his eyes, "It's like you read my soul." Sensology was handdrawn (painted) with a Wacon tablet at first, and later, a Cintiq, using Adobe Photoshop. The drawings and frames were then composited and manipulated in a 2D software called Animo. There is no vector animation at any point in the film. Because a film needs to be 24 FPS for theatrical projection, I had to create a new master which took quite a bit of creativity and effort in order to preserve as much of the animation as possible. Fortunately, the 24 FPS version looks good and nobody but me will ever see the difference. The version posted on YouTube is 30 FPS. A 9-second teaser of Sensology was posted on line in the Fall of 2006 and resulted in Pixar contacting me to do the abstract taste visualization for the film Ratatouille. Sensology was completed in July, 2010. It premiered in Los Angeles at the Laemmle's Fallbrook 7 in West Hills, CA on July 30th, 2010, where it was shown for three consecutive days.

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