Michael Bisio and Eyvind Kang - "MBEK"
(Meniscus Records 2000 MNSCS 005)
From Aural Innovations #15 (April 2001)
Like all new review material I gave this a few initial listens at work, none of which particularly grabbed me. Now I'm well aware that there's a huge gulf between cursory listening and strapping on the headphones and giving a disc undivided attention. But I was totally unprepared for the emotional roller-coaster ride that this duo would suck me into making this my hands down favorite of the four review CD's I received from Meniscus Records. Michael Bisio and Eyvind Kang play bass and violin respectively, and while this may not sound like the most exciting duo lineup for 70 minutes of music I can tell you that the two sparkle and astound throughout.
The disc opens with a taste of the pure passion to come with a rendition of Coltrane's "Seraphic Light". Kang's violin takes on the sax role and Bisio's bass is equally prominent, the two combined creating an avant-chamber/jazz feel. Coltrane would be proud. The duo excel at music that wavers between feverish peaks of intensity and quieter but equally stirring passages, and the two play furiously on their respective instruments. Slip this into the middle of a Monsters Of Rock festival and you'll be amazed at how many headbangers raise their fists. Honestly, parts of this are truly Hendrix for bass and violin. Bisio and Kang also travel down more conventional paths on the bluesy toe-tapping "The Biszer". And "Cardinal Waters" is a 22 minute tour de force that left me drained from the relentless fury of these dueling demons.
In summary, if you want to demonstrate to Rock fans how exciting and passionate improvisational jazz with forays into the avant garde can be then this would be a smokin' disc to blow their minds with. Adventurous yet accessible, and the playing is HOT. Recommended.
For more information you can visit the Meniscus Records web site.
Contact via snail mail c/o Menscus Records; 3010 Hennepin Ave South #217; Minneapolis, MN 55408.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz