Randy Raine-Reusch - Reviews

Bamboo, Silk and Stone
Signal to Noise - Bamboo, Silk and Stone & Outside the Wall 
Randy Raine-Reusch and Mei Han share a passion for Chinese zithers, and both love to take these microtonal, slide-tuned beasts on thousands-year journeys from traditional practice to the most angular and sever modern music. These two recordings compliment each other to he point of overlapping one track, Raine-Reusch’s composition “Bamboo, Silk and Stone.”

Mei Han is monogamous when it comes to her instrument. She sticks pretty much to a beast called the zheng, coaxing a variety of haunting moods and incisive statements from its 21 strings. Han floats seemingly without strain from one musical tradition to another. “Xi’an Medley” offers hyper-aware, keenly disciplined and finely etched Chinese traditional sounds, while the following track, “The Greening,” comes as a reverse culture shock, floating in lush harmonic territory of Ravel and Debussy. Diving deeply into a brief suite by Raine-Reusch. “Outside the Wall,” Han probes the essence of the solo zheng, making the listener almost resent the party-crashing Borealis String Quartet when they show up for a long and intermittently successful Kronos Quartet-type multi-cult exercise.

Unlike the zheng-faithful Han, Raine-Reusch seems to have a zither in every port. He has collected hundreds of these exotic instruments, and loves to plug them in and/or “prepare” them a la John Cage. Raine-Reusch teams brilliantly with hard-core new music stalwarts like trombonist Stuart Dempster, and Jon Gibson, founding member of the Phillip Glass Ensemble. His playing may not be as deeply sensitive as Han’s but his restless creativity more than makes up the difference. Bamboo. Silk and Stone sticks to clean, severe settings, both traditional and modern. Both of these discs are well worth experiencing, if only to discover a beautiful and versatile family of instruments that two sensitive artists have plucked up wholesale and brought into a new millennium. Larry Consentino.

MUSICWORKS - Bamboo Silk and Stone
I buy lots of CDs of interesting and experimental music.  I'm always looking for music that is magical, transformative and full of authentic energy that comes as close as possible on CD to the energy experienced by hearing a dynamic live performance.  Randy Raine-Reusch has made such a CD and it is truly wonderful!  In fact, it is exactly what I always hope to find in a new CD but mostly never do.  It takes me into a musical world that is new and rich and deeply satisfying while somehow feeling familiar ?as though you heard the music in a dream somewhere, in another place.  The CD is entitled Bamboo, Silk and Stone on ZA Discs N-11.  It features Randy performing solo on four tracks (two are overdubbed) using various standard classical and rare Asian musical instruments and accompanied on the remainder tracks by such luminaries as: Stuart Dempster, William O. Smith, Jin Hi Kim, John Gibson and Barry Truax, using mostly western instruments and electro-acoustic media.  While the collaborative contributions are all sensitive and sympathetic to Randy's musical direction (especially White Room, Three Shadows with Dempster and Smith and Unprepared with Jin Hi Kim) ? which has evolved out an Asian aesthetic conjoined with a western experimentalist's courage and adventurousness? the most interesting tracks are him alone.  A Sleeping Rain for prepared kayageum is dynamic with its speech-like reiterative phrases. The music reaches right out of the electronic media of playback equipment and grabs you and pulls you in. And this is true throughout the whole CD.  I marvel at how immediate and direct the energy of the music is, how there is such a deep understanding of space and statement (the mah in Japanese music) and of the inevitability of gesture and new timbres.  Bamboo, Silk and Stone is music that always leaves more room for discovery with repeated listenings.  It's at the very top of my home play list!  David Mott - Musicworks

Wholenote - Bamboo, Silk and Stone
This ambitious CD showcases just one of the many facets of the extraordinary Vancouver musician, bandleader, composer, instrument collector, World Music activist and scholar, Randy Raine-Reusch. His 30-year career has taken him to many countries, where it seems he can’t help himself from adding to his magnificent collection of more than 700 instruments.

Bamboo, Silk and Stone” contains eight compositions featuring Randy’s masterful playing of of six Asian zithers from his collection. These beautiful instruments are relatively little-known to most Canadian music-lovers and it was certainly a brilliant design coup to have each instrument pictured and described in the handsome CD booklet. While listening to the selections I found myself often musing on the elaborate structural and decorative details on the zithers, which helped bring the music made on these instruments to life in my mind’s and ear’s eye.

Randy’s zither playing is joined on several compositions by illustrious guest musicians, including free jazz pioneer William O. Smith clarinet, trombonist Stuart Dempster, and soprano sax great Jon Gibson. Vancouver-based composer Barry Truax contributes his composition Bamboo, Silk and Stone, complete with his signature ‘granular synthesis’, a sound-morphing computer procedure.

The highlight for me is the last track, October Moon. In it Randy’s skilled sho (Japanese mouth organ) and dynamic chan’go (Korean drum) playing sets the scene for his emotionally-inflected ichigenkin (single-string Japanese zither) solo. October Moon effectively bridges the sound world of John Cage, the abandonment of free jazz and the focus on the pure sounds found in meditative traditions such as Tao and Zen Buddhism. This combination of elements perhaps best sums up the music on this remarkable CD.  Wholenote, Anrew timar, Oct.1, 2005

Far Eastern Audio Review  - Bamboo. Silk and Stone
The latest release by multi-instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch is a collection of plucked-string pieces performed in the early 90s. In solo and group settings, he plays six different types of Asian zither, often in tunings and preparations of his own device. It is fitting that the title of the disc, Bamboo, Silk and Stone, draws attention to the materials of which his instruments are made, because the tracks on this disc are, in effect, compositions about composition. Raine-Reusch eschews melody in favor of tonality. His genius is an ability to focus the listener’s attention onto microscopic strata of timbre: the scratch of a plectrum on gut string, the resonance of wood, the moan and whistle of harmonics that usually remain hidden behind fundamental tones.

Raine-Reusch’s collaborations with Mei Han on Distant Wind were sometimes built upon repetitive figures, but these pieces are often quite sparse and either through-composed or improvised. The depth of the performers’ attention is evident in the way a single note arises, blooms, wilts and returns to nothingness. On Bamboo, Silk and Stone, silence is as important as sound and listening as important as playing. In fact, as I play this disc I feel I’m not merely listening to sound, but listening to listening. The tiny worlds of these dioramic recordings slowly open up and envelop you, allowing you to hear with the ears of the performer.

The Wire  - Bamboo. Silk and Stone
While many Asian musicians are merrily chucking there traditional zithers in the garbage, all the better to get their hands on guitars and bootleg software, Canadian composer and collector Randy Raine-Reusch is racing about, telling them to preserve these endangered species.  His love for these distinctive twanging artifacts is palpable. Raine-Reusch’s pieces include solos, groupings with wind players Jon Gibson and Stuart Dempster, and electroacoustic escapades. Five zithers are showcased, from the ultra-rare Japanese nigenkin to the eerie Vietnamese dan bau, heard in a delicate duo with the Korean kayagum of Jin Hi Kim. Raine-Reusch’s own kayagum ranges from pretty riffs to the earthly meditations of “Forgotten Morning”. Then there’s the grandmother of them all, the Chinese zheng, already going in and out of fashion in the sixth century BC. Raine-Reusch’s approach is serous and open to experiment, and avoids the New Age banalities of the likes of Stephan Micus.
Clive Bell, The Wire, June 2005.

DRIFTWORKS: Pauline Oliveros & Randy Raine-Reusch: In the Shadow of the Phoenix
The four tracks feature Oliveros playing her signature accordion (tuned in just intonation, the Pythagorean tuning also favored by Robert Rich), joined by reed player Randy Raine-Reusch on three Asian instruments: the khaen, the sho and the dan bau. On each track, the two musicians take off in two separate directions, alternating between drawing abstract melodic lines and extended drones that only occasionally meet each other briefly before moving on to new explorations. This album clearly challenges the listener to engage in "deep listening," and unlike much other textural music, does not leave open the option of being used as "background" sound.

GUDIRA: Barry Guy, Robert Dick and Randy Raine-Reusch
Gudira - The Wire
Gudira teams Robert Dick with bassist Barry Guy also a master of extended technique, and multi-instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch, undoubtedly the only musician In the world to have performed with both Aerosmith and Pauline Oliveros.  Playing various zithers, wind and percussion instruments of Oriental origin, Raine-Reusch is vital to the peculiar palette of sounds the trio works with. His contributions often come in at a tangent, tossing angular clattering statements into the conversation. Guy is the usual restless resource of invention, reworking and transforming motifs, and continuously shifting the music forward.  Dick stalks the boundaries of flute sound, returning periodically to deliver hovering mournful lines.  The combined bowing, scraping and note-bending takes the music into a strange, timbrally rich space, with all three musicians committed to mining the interstices of the 12-tone scale.  Their engrossing three-way conversations produce intense musical rapids that threaten to engulf the listener.  It's a bit of a shock at first, but once you've got your hair wet, your head quickly acclimatizes itself to its formidable, yet rewarding demands.
Will Montgomery, The Wire

Gudira - All About Jazz.com
Simply put, Gudira is a recording of monumental proportions and implications as the teaming of three modern day innovators have crafted a series of improvisations-compositions which are unlike anything this writer has heard. To quote the liners, "Robert Dick, soloist, improviser and composer, is frequently compared to Paganini or Jimi Hendrix as a creative virtuoso who has not only mastered his instrument, but also redefined it". Multi-instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch is a master of world music instruments and has performed with a vast array of artists such as rock bands Aerosmith and The Cranberries, Pauline Oliveros and many others within various circles. The great bassist Barry Guy has enjoyed an extensive and noteworthy tenure with free-jazz sax genius Evan Parker and other celebrated musicians too numerous to cite here. So there you have it, three master musicians who hail from slightly disparate backgrounds. 

From the onset it becomes apparent that this aggregation was meant to be. Perhaps a near perfect if somewhat improbable alliance.  The group dialogue is utterly fascinating as Raine-Reusch’s zither and Guy’s powerful, commanding double-bass work strangely compliment Dick’s captivating lyricism. 

Gudira - Jazziz
Flutist Robert Dick and bassist Barry Guy, seasoned composers/improvisors, are known for finely wrought music. In addition, they're constantly extending their instruments' sonic spectrums. Take them, add a third member -- Canadian "world musician" Randy Raine-Reusch, who specializes in non-Western instruments -- and what happens?  With his Asian zithers and Middle Eastern percussion, Raine-Reusch serves as a bridge between Dick and Guy's hyper-intense work, bringing a non-Western tonal dimension to the forefront and revealing new elements in the others' playing. 

On "Thithaways", Raine-Reusch begins on the sho (a Japanese mouth organ), doubling Dick's breathy flute lines. He blows long tones that slowly appear and decay. Then he changes to a zither and plucks rapid runs in response to which Guy pulls out tensely nervous tones from his bass.  On "Ideareal History", Raine-Reusch wields the guzheng (a Chinese zither), in a long duo with Guy, prompting the Brit to race along with rapid action up and down the strings. Guy's exquisite bowing technique is well known, but Raine-Reusch pulls out the finest nuances in Guy's metallic clangs. 

Indeed throughout the recording, the sound is rich in tiny nuances, all the little fleeting sounds that rest between Western scales.  A tone feast for the ears! 

Gudira - Cadence
Gudira is the name of the album and the name of the trio, which comes from the first two letters of the names of the players.  Their music is a collaborative effort of abstract and usually dense group Improvisation, with all of the performers taking a lead role.  Guy and Dick are experienced practitioners of free playing, and they feel very much at home.  The addition of Randy Raine-Reusch gives the music a somewhat Eastern flair, as his work on Asian zithers takes the part of the keyboards.  The three explore a wide range of colors, sonorities, and inflections, crossing genres and disregarding convention.  Some of the most impressive moments on the CD reflect the interplay of Raine-Reusch and Barry Guy, where, for example on the impressive "Ideareal History", they wrestle for an extended session of unmitigated bliss. The work of Raine-Reusch gives the recording a special hue. A self described "composer/concert-artist specializing in new and experimental music for world instruments", Raine-Reusch focuses on sophisticated Asian sounds that perfectly compliment the virtuosic fanciful flights of Guy and the somewhat disjointed, sometimes lyrical runs of Dick. Gudira is a strong addition to the Nuscope catalogue, which boasts a small but growing catalogue of free-style recordings. 

Randy Raine-Reusch, Barry Guy, Mats Gustafsson - One Final Note.com
A Slice of the Du Maurier Jazz Festival Vancouver, BC: 24-26 June, 2001
The Vancouver Du Maurier Jazz Festival is one of many that occur annually in Canada, one which is earning a competitive reputation for assembling the most colorful threads of the jazz tapestry in a most timely fashion. This 16th year featured more than 1500 jazz musicians from around the world, performing at over forty different venues. Du Maurier's organizers have their ears close to the rails of the jazz progression, thus booking in advance such headliners as Dave Douglas, John Scofield, Louis Hayes, Curtis Fuller, Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, and Ellery Eskelin's acclaimed trio with accordionist Andrea Parkins and drummer Jim Black. For all of these promising acts, the most anticipated event of the festival took place within the opening weekend--the Barry Guy New Orchestra, an international concoction of some of the most prolific instrumentalists in contemporary jazz. …For two days prior to the New Orchestra's single performance on Sunday night, the musicians could be heard in a variety of settings spread across four separate venues, each of the exhibitions a marathon of free improvisation unto itself. The performances were both primer and filler for hungry audiences.

On Friday, opening night of the festival, Barry Guy and Mats Gustafsson joined Vancouver composer/instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch for a set of meditative free improvisation. Raine-Reusch, a master of eclectic East Asian wind and string instruments, was perfectly suited for the foundation laid by Guy and Gustafsson, which was a blend of their own telepathic skills and the uniqueness of the setting itself. The stage was the limestone floors of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Chinese Classical Garden, in the Chinatown section of Vancouver.

The garden is said to be "a microcosm of nature and man's place within it." Honored for the early-20th century Chinese leader of the same name, it is a stunning call back to the architecture of the Ming Dynasty, adorned with mahogany wood, ornate tile patterns, bonsai trees, bamboo, and a contemplation pool brewing with Koi fish.

It was a natural atmosphere for the trio, who seemed to play not just for their audience, but also as an extension of the serene elements of their surroundings, both organic and immaterial. The trio settled into the first piece with Raine-Reusch blowing a sumpoton--a Sabahan mouth organ with several reed-fitted pipes affixed to a gourd wind chamber. Guy joined on bass with Gustafsson close behind on tenor saxophone, and soon the trio was engaged in a thirty minute improvisation that was as incomprehensible as it was awe inspiring. The unsuspecting audience was taken for a colorful ride that called to Eastern mysticism and the permutations of European free improv alike. As remarkable as the trio played, nothing was more endearing than the way in which music fused with environs. At one point during the set, with Gustafsson taking a soft solo on fluteophone--Gustafsson's creation, a flute outfitted with themouthpiece of a saxophone--a small group of gulls soared overhead, inspiring a brief burst of call and response between the birds and the reedman. Other pieces featured Raine-Reusch on two fretless Chinese zithers, using fingers, slides, brushes and mallets to extract a mélange of tones and inflections. During the second improvisation, following an excursion colored by straight ethereal tones from each instrument, Guy constructed a weighty solo, moving violently up and down the strings. With intense and concentrated energy, he maintained communication with his stage mates; upon hearing percussive tones from the Chinese zither, Guy began mimicking with mallets on the strings of the double bass. Gustafsson occasionally came alive on baritone saxophone and Guy never failed to push the group into new territory with thoughtful submissions and an against-the-grain idealism that was both commanding and stimulating.

At show's end the audience stirred and reflected. Some attempted to deconstruct the sounds that were experienced, others engaged in the judgmental diarrhetics that so often plague the free jazz crowd--"Wow, that was…well, I don't know. Fantastic."  "A perfect match, Randy was amaaaazing." ...
ALAN JONES,One Final Note - Issue#7-8, summer/fall 2001

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