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Tom Johnson - Kientzy plays Johnson (Paris Transatlantic Magazine)::

Tom Johnson - Kientzy plays JohnsonNow that the big names from the first generation of minimalists have abandoned the mathematical rigour of their earlier work in favour of activities as diverse as ripping off mid 70s Bowie albums and providing dull soundtracks to ham fisted home movies about zeppelins and cloned sheep, it’s comforting to know there’s still someone out there willing to get stuck in the rut of an eight-note self-replicating melody. Which is what Tom Johnson, born in Colorado in 1939 and resident in Paris since 1983, does in his “Kientzy Loops”, written for and performed by French sax virtuoso Daniel Kientzy and assisted by Reina Portuondo. It’s also gratifying to report that the piece won Johnson an award at the French music biz showcase Victoires de la Musique in 2000 (about time they found something decent to award a prize to). “Kientzy Loops” is joined on this album by “Tortue de Mer (Sea Turtle)”, a translation into music of the geometrical drawing of the aforementioned creature by the inhabitants of the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, “Narayana’s Cows”, another additive process musical representation of a mathematical conundrum devised by a 14th century Indian mathematician, and four of Johnson’s “Infinite Melodies”, which, as their titles suggest, would go on forever if an instrument with an infinitely large range could be found to perform them. Kientzy’s contrabass sax sounds as ugly and ungainly as it looks, but the saxophonist’s performances of these uncompromisingly minimal works is precise and impressive, even if about three quarters of the way through “Narayana’s Cows” you find yourself praying for an epidemic of foot and mouth to reduce the size of the herd to more manageable proportions.—DW

Past Feature Article: If, Bwana / Al Margolis featured in UK's Wire Magazine
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