French pianist Frédéric Blondy sneaks into town | Bleader

Thursday, April 3, 2008

French pianist Frédéric Blondy sneaks into town

Posted By on 04.03.08 at 01:24 PM

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Every so often Enemy, the experimental-music space booked by Jason Soliday, lands a really great show, but sometimes it seems like most people aren't supposed to know. For example, on Friday the great French pianist Frédéric Blondy makes his Chicago debut playing duets with cellist and former Chicagoan Audrey Chen, who now makes her home in Baltimore. As I write this on Thursday morning, the show's still not listed on the Enemy Web site--I just happened to stumble across the info on Tushar Samant's invaluable concert calendar earlier this week.  It's a shame, because Blondy is pretty great.

He's recently released a spate of new discs, including Obdo (on the excellent new Another Timbre imprint), a duet with German synthesizer master Thomas Lehn, but I haven't been able to track any of them down yet. I can vouch for his work, though, in the collective Hubbub--a quintet that exercises gorgeous restraint and patience in its carefully pitched, dialed-down improvisations.

Perhaps more germane to tomorrow's performance is Blondy's wonderful duet with percussionist Lê Quan Ninh, Exaltatio Utriusque Mundi (Potlatch, 2003), where he dissolves the lines between so-called lowercase improvisation, contemporary classical, and free jazz. Considering that Le Quan is a master of textural exploration on minimal setups--often he uses only a bass drum, laid flat and modified with objects placed on its head-- it's no surprise that Blondy keeps things quiet on this disc. I'm curious to see what he'll do with the more freewheeling Chen.

Today's playlist:

Ingar Zach, Thomas Lehn & Ivar Grydeland, szs zcz cze zec eci cin (Musica Genera)
Odawas, Raven and the White Night (Jagjaguwar)
Keith Hudson & the Soul Syndicate, Nuh Skin Up (Pressure Sounds)
Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem, Vous et Nous (Saravah)
Tisha Mukarji, D Is for Din (Creative Sources)

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