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WOOD MOON By Ryoko Ono & Rogier Smal (CD)

9 tracks
47:49 minutes

Ryoko Ono: Saxophone, vocals
Rogier Smal: Drums, percussion

Artwork and design by Simon Fowler

A chance meeting in Japan, a quick decision to meet again in Europe to record.
And then, suddenly, this: Improvised music that could go anywhere and
appeared in the form a sparkling, lush conversations drawing as much
on melodies and rhythms as noise and silence.

Ryoko Ono (Nagoya, Japan)

Saxophonist, flutist, composer and recording artist specializing in
improvised music and works for saxophone and electronics. She plays in
a wide range of genres, not only improvised music, but also blues,
jazz, progressive rock, noise, and avant-garde music. Her way of
playing is consistent throughout all of these styles. It is solid,
romantic inter-play. Ono leads her own group Ryorchestra and is one
half of SaxRuins with Yoshida Tatsuya. She has performed with Mick Barr,
Richard Pinhas, Toshiji Mikawa, Usui Yasuhiro and many others.

Rogier Smal (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Drummer who experiments with free percussion sounds. He plays with
different groups, musicians as well as solo. Lately Rogier has been
making sonic waves of liberty with gems like: Dagora, Marshall Allen,
Dylan Carlson, David Birchall, Eugene Chadbourne, Asuna Arashi,
Sunburned Hand of the Man, Mik Quantius, Cathy Heyden, Daevid Allen,
Nora Mulder, Arvind Ganga, Johannes Lunds, Maria Bertel, Don McGreevy
and many more.


RYOKO ONO & ROGIER SMAL - Wood Moon (JVT Landt 0016; Japan)

Featuring Ms. Ryoko Ono on alto sax & vocal and Roger Smal on drums. If the name Ryoko Ono sounds familiar, it is because she is a member of Sax Ruins, whose second disc we listed last week (4/8/16). Ms. Ono also has a great solo disc out on Doubt Records which includes the Tatsuya Yoshida (from Ruins) on drums. Amsterdam-based drummer, Rogier Smal has worked with an eclectic cast of characters: Eugene Chadbourne, Marshall Allen and Daevid Allen. Together Ms. Ono & Mr. Smal make a most formidable duo! This sounds like a studio date and the sound is well-captured. There is a strong, spirited dialogue going on here. The duo take their time and start often quietly on the second piece, building in intensity throughout. The exchange back and forth is most extraordinary and intricate, even telepathic at times as they enter twine perfectly. There is a good deal of more subdued moments here in between those blast of fire. The more restrained pieces are much more diverse then one would imagine. There times when Ms. Ono sounds like John Zorn when she pushes the pedal to the metal with quick, zigzagging lines, circular-breathing is short bursts, bending those multi phonic notes inside-out and even dipping her mouthpiece into a glass of water, an old trick that Mr. Zorn used to do in the early days of the Downtown scene. This is a most extraordinary duo, one that won't be beat anytime soon I predict. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Bruce Lee Gallanter / Downtown Music Gallery


Ryoko Ono is one-half of Sax Ruins, the current incarnation of Tatsua Yoshida's febrile Zeuhl-rock project, but as this bracing duo set with French percussionist Rogier Small shows, she's worthy of serious attention as a saxophonist in her own right. Playing the dizzyingly complex music of Ruins requires precise articulation and Ono brings that sharpness to a freer context with aplomb, spiralling through boppish runs and harmolodic riddles, peppering it all with pinched squawks and waspish asides. On one track she switches to a strangely hip vocalese, her gibberish becoming increasingly demented as Smal turns up the heat. The drummer is an excellent foil, driving and physical when he needs to be, while taking inspired detours into metallic percussion abstraction and Sun Ra space trance.

The Quietus