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Upstream by Geoff Leigh - Yumi Hara

For starters, the musicians’ respective careers bring quite a bit of diversity to the table. Woodwind artist, multi-instrumentalist Geoff Leigh was a member of avant-garde, prog-rock icons Henry Cow amid stints with many legendary British bands, such as Hatfield And The North and Slapp Happy. Keyboardist Yumi Hara is a psychiatrist, DJ and possesses a PHD in composition from City University in the U.K., and engages in numerous artistic related endeavors in Europe. On this duet release, the duo forges a multifaceted plane of notions and concepts, as no two pieces are distinctly alike, especially when considering various song-form and improvisational aspects.

Among other attributes, the musicians are resourceful. They set down an imprint, awash with mind-altering abstractions, marked by Leigh’s ethereal flute lines, Hara’s haunting keys, and the avant component. They keenly alter the pitch in a range of interweaving movements. Then on "The Mountain Laughs," Hara emulates a church organ via her keyboards while imparting a solemn framework for Leigh’s genial flute lines. Elsewhere, the artists invert a hodgepodge of themes into bizarre environs, where Hara’s vocal chants over the top, offer quasi-mystical propositions.

On "Dolphin Chase," Leigh’s soprano sax phrasings intimate a whirling, free-form set of paradigms, countered by Hara’s response mechanisms, shaded with droning textures and colorific EFX treatments. Here, Leigh soars to the cosmos under the auspices of attaining some sort of spiritual cleansing. Unlike similar projects of this ilk by others, the duo sustains interest throughout the entire program. It’s a study in contrasts, marked by the artists’ clear-sighted game-plan, that is sprinkled with plentiful surprises along the way.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Geoff Leigh - Yumi Hara
  • CD Title: Upstream
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Moonjune Records
  • Musicians: Geoff Leigh(flute, soprano sax, zither, percussion, nose flute, voice drone, electronics), Yumi Hara(keyboards, vocals)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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