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Renaud-Gabriel Pion – New York Sketches

Renaud-Gabriel Pion (piano, woodwinds): Iva Bittová (vocal): Arto Lindsay (vocal and electric guitar): Ryuichi Sakamoto (piano): Steve Argüelles (drums, percussion): Vikyat Singh and Jayanta Bose (tablas, vocal): Barbara Louise Gogan (vocal): Erik Truffaz (trumpet)

Recorded NYC, no date

DUX 1267 [60:48]



Renaud-Gabriel Pion – New York Sketches

The New CPW

Raggamuffin Brooklyn

Sourceless Light

Punjab To NY


New Moon Over City Hall

Extérieur Nuit 2

Radio Audience (Twist)

Traffic Jam!


Fanfare In A Cab

B Train

2nd Opening Night - for John Cassavetes

Extérieur Nuit 1

Eternity Is A Long Time

BONUS Greenpoint Impromptu featuring Iva Bittová



The focal point here is pianist and woodwind player Renaud-Gabriel Pion who has constructed an example of what I suppose you could call ambient travelogue. There is background ambient New York street noise – emergency sirens, taxi horns, muffled conversation – over which the music emerges and then, again, recedes to allow that city skein to remerge.

So, Pion’s ruminative piano musings appear quietly in the opener, The New CPW, where his overdubbed sax amplifies the aural perspective. The ambient cityscape sits permanently behind his darting piano lines in Raggamuffin Brooklyn and sometimes one feels the nature of the biographical narrative – for instance, Punjab to NY features exotic Indian sub-continentally inflected saxophone soloing segueing into an up-tempo vibe; perhaps this seems a crude device but it works reasonably in practice. (Mind you, the booklet notes, largely pictorial, and which easily detach themselves from the gatefold card, are unhelpful about who plays what and when.)

Land has a pop-like vocal from Barbara Louise Gogan, whereas there is some modal trumpet and sax – the former from Erik Truffaz – on New Moon Over City Hall which I find one of the most attractive, if perhaps conventional tracks on the album. The livewire Czech singer Iva Bittová turns up to lend her vocals to Extérieur Nuit 2 and her characteristic folk-keening extends the stylistic range of the album further, even if at the cost of appearing anomalous and despite the addition of saxophone there is still a whiff of ECM kookiness about things.

There is another guest appearance, this time from Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose piano styling is excellent; the air generated here is calm, reverential, chime-like and solemn. There’s a ghostly track in the shape of Fanfare in a Cab, a cod Old School Jazz band trapped as it were in aural aspic. Tricksy. Elsewhere occasional piano blues stylings, the appearance of lonesome bass clarinet and other woodwinds, and a free reworking of Steve Reich’s Piano Phrase in the shape of the last track, Eternity Is A Long Time complete a sometimes bewildering melange of impressions, dreamlike sequences, aural tapestry, psycho-biography and sheer bluster. As if this wasn’t enough the album is dedicated to a host of luminaries including Allen Ginsberg, Mauricio Kagel, John Cage, Andre Previn, David Bowie etc etc. Pretentious piffle? You choose.

Jonathan Woolf

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