Wings Reviews

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from Wholenote Magazine

Among contemporary music fans, NEXUS has long been considered one of the world’s premiere percussion ensembles – and they have been making music of the percussive persuasion for an astonishing 37 years.

I think I just may be dating myself when relating that I attended some of their early memorable all-improvised concerts of the early 1970s, but skimming through their 25 item discography serves as a reminder of NEXUS’ insatiable musical appetites. It reveals an astonishingly wide range of musical interests: from orchestral works, to early 20th century novelty tunes, to an album with jazz pianist and composer Gil Evans.

The music on Wings, the newest addition to their CD catalogue, yet again proves to cover much intriguing musical ground.

At the heart of the album are seven songs in popular Western idioms composed by the prolific Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, and arranged for percussion ensemble by various Nexus members. The fascinating Takemitsu (1930-1996), created hundreds of works for the concert hall, movies and it seems more than a few pop songs. According to conductor Seiji Ozawa ‘Toru Takemitsu is the first Japanese composer to write for a world audience and achieve international recognition.’ He also found time to write a detective novel, plus he must be one of very few serious composers who have appeared frequently on Japanese television as a celebrity chef!

The NEXUS song arrangements and performances on Wings are deft, warm and affecting. By turns infused with acoustic light: delicate and resonant bells (in Sakura); and darkness: funerary drumming in All That the Man Left Behind When He Died, they run the gamut of human experience and emotion.

The CD closes on an ecstatic note with its most substantial composition, Russell Hartenberger’s two-movement Telisi Odyssey. I’m not sure how, but the composer manages to mystically merge Ghanaian with South Indian musical rhythms and melodic elements.

Andrew Timar / Wholenote Magazine

from Percussive Notes Magazine

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