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Sakina Abdou: Goodbye Ground



Sakina Abdou: Goodbye Ground
Sakina Abdou brings intriguing, spectral and rarefied vision to the music of Goodbye Ground

The artist [the poet, dramatist, and musician], indulging in the act of creation is a lonely being, albeit every artistic creation is meant to be shared by a willing audience. This is especially true if that artist – in this case Sakina Abdou – is engaged in the act of creating solo works that she will bring to the eager listener. In fact, there is sure to be a legion of eager listeners for Goodbye Ground, a difficult, yet truly remarkable recording on which Miss Abdou performs three remarkable works – including a riveting suite entitled Planting Chairs – on alto and tenor saxophones.

Oblique humour and surreal imagery mark the cover of Goodbye Ground

Why are these works [particularly the suite] ‘difficult’? It really comes down to a mindset. For those of us schooled in classical conservatoires may be used to listening to works played solo on the piano. Digging deeper, of course, one realises that Miss Abdou has successfully brought these works to fruition by playing two forms of the classic woodwind instrument – the saxophone – that are almost never played together. Likewise, one is accustomed to hearing a tenor saxophonist also play the soprano.

Two examples that leap to mind are, of course, John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. In the latter part of their respective careers both grand masters all but gave up playing the tenor saxophone in favour of fine-tuning their virtuosity on a single variation of the instrument which they aligned to suit their artistic vision. Miss Abdou may well follow suit, but for now, she appears to rely on – speaking both of virtuosity and the alignment of instruments to artistic vision – both alto and tenor saxophones. Most appropriately titled, Miss Abdou suggests that metaphorically – and literally – she bids adieu to the presumed floor-level of [her] artistry to ascend to its rarefied realm.

And then there is this music as performed by an woodwind’s artist as fine as Miss Abdou… The first noteworthy aspect of the music is a polyphonic harmonic and rhythmic language of oscillating patterns, marked by superb articulation, and liquid glissandos, not to mention the surprising, elliptical arpeggios that swerve and fly upwards, often seemingly wrong-footed in their ascent, but always landing exactly where they are supposed to. The transformation [of notes that were they to be written] flies off the page, Miss Abdou’s softer, rounder qualities of expression add expressive depth to this music.

Miss Abdou does not push the music around too much and the opening work – The Day I Became a Floor – although this might suggest a sort of grounding of her artistic vision as a sort of springboard to a presumed free-thinking vision that allows her to leap off and infuse the silence with her sound. Thus, after announcing her the upward direction of her stated intention in a voice barely above a whisper, her playing is gradually transformed dramatically, beginning with an obvious clue entitled Goodbye Ground.

The saxophonist’s playing on the Planting Chairs is less restrained, defined by an almost metaphysical intensity created in a bubble of clarity and focus. The cycle begins with Part I and the chairs in question rooted on the proverbial ground. As the cycle progresses, however, her more reverberant playing suggests that she is no longer in the artistic act of Planting Chairs terrestrially but more celestially, in keeping with the overall artistic vision of bidding adieu to the restraint. In other words, she is saying Goodbye Ground, reveling in her artistry, exercising her unfettered musicianship via uncommon virtuosity on both the alto and the tenor saxophones, all the while playing around with [the instruments’] warmth of colour to bring out the glorious vision of her artistry and the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic conception of this masterful disc.

Deo gratis…

Music – 1: The Day I Became a Floor; 2: Goodbye Ground; 3: Planting Chairs [Part I]; 4: Planting Chairs [Part II]; 5: Planting Chairs [Part III]; 6: Planting Chairs [Part IV]; 7: Planting Chairs [Part V].

Musicians – Sakina Abdou: alto and tenor saxophones.

Recorded/Released – 2022
Label – Relative Pitch Records [55013]
Runtime – 43:29

Based in Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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