recorded live at Kulturhaus Dock 4, Kassel, Germany, January 2004 engineered and mixed by Frank Momberg, mastered by Tom Hamilton photos by Ross Willows, graphic design by Eve Vick, painting from A Love Primeval by Will Ryan, produced by Robert Dick & Ursel Schlicht

From the Liner Notes by Gene Santoro:

A common pairing in classical music, flute-piano duos are rare in improvised music.  But as they roam the territory between jazz, new music, and world music, Dick and Schlicht field a host of unusual sonics and techniques so startling that they open new panoramas.

Over the last three decades, Dick has redefined the flute’s apparent limits musically and technically.  He is a brilliant technician with seemingly effortless mastery of complex breathing, vocalizing, and overtones.  Schlicht offers the perfect stimuli and counterpoints.  At the piano, she has a quiver full of sharpened skills; she bows them with a sure hand aiming not for bravura but for the soul of each piece.  She morphs her keyboards from muffled doom-laden clouds to note-bending koto; she’s as likely to play inside the box — the piano sound box, that is — as outside it at the keyboard.

LAPIS BLUES: Both delicate and forceful, with Dick’s flute etching runs and exhaling swirls against Schlicht’s empathetically prowling piano—when it doesn’t punctuate her thoughts as tuned percussion.

EMERGENCE opens with heavily damped piano and breathy bass flute cavorting at the edge of whistling and periodically startled by jagged accents.  The conversation unfolds from reflection to restlessness to rage to resolution.

FAUST begins ominously, the piano lurking with large, angular steps alongside the dangerously capering, almost careening flute.  The tempo accelerates into a dizzying eddy, and flute and piano dance a ballet of passion and power and human frailty in call and response that ends with the reprise of the fractured, leaping melody.

PIECE IN GAMELAN STYLE: The pyrotechnics on this solo tour-de-force are no less devastating than Paganini’s or Hendrix’s.  Dick’s circular breathing alone is a marvel.

FRAGMENTS: The opening’s insistent spiky runs downshift into frenetic rumbles yielding to an urban soundscape, relentless, dazzling, edgy, seductive.  Then Dick’s flute unfurls its all-too-human cry across the hurtling rhythms.

PHOTOSPHERE is direct and intelligent in a world of posturing and yelling and spin and hype.  It asks for your attention rather than demanding it.  But those whose ears are open and whose spirits are willing will find ample reward.

By Derek Taylor

June 19, 2006 All About Jazz

In this age of shoebox-budget labels and shoebox-sized recording technology, the concert stage has swiftly become the new studio. As a result, home listeners are privy to more live music than ever before. This rhyme-ready pairing of flautist Dick and pianist Schlicht illustrates the immediate benefits of the progress with this performance taped in front of a respectful German audience.

Both musicians are masters of extended techniques on their respective instruments. Dick has been expanding the capabilities of the flute family with a virtuosic command for several decades. His blend of jazz, classical, new music, Eastern and even rock influences (in the form of Hendrix covers) has repeatedly garnered both accolades and consternation at its wanton diversity. Schlicht is similarly disposed to a diaspora of genres and styles. She’s just as likely to outfit her piano with all manner of preparations and manipulate its innards as attend to the conventional ivories in shaping an elaborate improvisation.

This set’s five pieces distribute compositional honors evenly between the two players. Dick’s “Lapis Blues” unfolds like an Asiatic variant of the titular idiom. Shakuhachi-like gusts, augmented by a special Dick-designed flute attachment, vie with twittering accents to create a brooding cerulean brew. Schlicht mimics the sounds of Eastern percussion devices with dampened strings, further establishing the feel of a court music fantasia tinged with dark Delta mud. “Emergence” also traffics in somber and dispersive percussive tones. Dick’s whispery breath sounds and popping bass flute patterns butt against more pedal-suppressed piano clusters to create a disconcertingly spooky combination of floating tonal shapes. Oddly enough, I found myself thinking of Herbie Mann’s classic “Purple Grotto” from his vintage Bethlehem album Plays.

“Piece in Gamelan Style” is a solo tour de force for Dick’s circular breathing and precision multiphonics. At nearly twelve minutes, it tests his mettle in matching the polyrhythmic traditions of named in the title, but remains meditative and highly melodic throughout. Calling him the Evan Parker of the flute based on this performance isn’t an exaggeration—in fact, it’s probably an inadequate pigeonhole given the breadth of his interests.

“Faust” and “Fragments,” both by Schlicht, offer what appear more standard flute and piano pairings, at least on the surface. The first sounds largely through composed and chamber-oriented. It comes from the pianist’s score to F.W. Murnau's silent film of the same name, and there’s certainly a cinematic element to the duo’s closely calibrated interplay. The second is largely devoted to the composer’s contemplative rhythmic constructions. Dick returns in the second half to voice a rapid galvanizing retort through aerated spiraling inflections.

Flute and piano may sometimes yield a limited, classically tethered palette, but in the hands of Dick and Schlicht, any such shortcomings swiftly succumb under the amount of shared intellect and imagination placed in the service of breaching preconceived parameters.

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