Outsiders: Min Xiao-Fen, With Six Composers, Avant, 1998
You can listen to it at: https://www.shazam.com/it/track/10814703/duo-ye
We live in an era made of cultural intersections, pollinations and derivations. It is not surprising then the attraction exercised on Western musicians from the Far East, an attraction completely different by the perspective proposed by Edward D. Said in his important essay Orientalism . Starting from the use of stylistic features typical of those cultures, we have gone on to collaborations, sometimes very daring collaborations, with musicians apparently unrelated to any avant-garde musical form. This is the case of Min Xiao-Fen, a Chinese pipe player, who moved to New York for several years, where he currently lives.
The pipe is a lute belonging to the millennial Chinese tradition (it seems to have 2000 years of life) extremely complex for chromatism and techniques of approach. Surely it occupies a prominent place in the hierarchy of Chinese instruments if contemporary musicians like Tan Dun and Bun Ching-Lam have felt the need to use it in some of their scores. Xiao-Fen studied with her father, Min Ji-Qian, a professor and pipe player at Nanjiing University. She later played the pipe in the Nanjiing Orchestra from 1980 to 1992. In 1992 she emigrated to the United States, and since then she has collaborated with many contemporary artists, such as composers Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Tony de Ritis, Marc Battier and Carl Stone and other avant-garde names such as Leo Smith, George Lewis, Derek Bailey, John Zorn …
What interests me most in her discography is her solo work relesed on Avant in 1998, in which Min compares with the scores of six (mostly Chinese)contemporary composers . With Six Composers (this is the title of the CD) stands out as one of her most representative works with scores like Run (by Bun-Ching Lam), where a particular tremolo effect is explored, and Lake biwa at Full Moon Purewater Gold (by Leo Smith), a fascinating journey into the ethereal lyricism of the African American musician. But they are the compositions of Tan Dun (C-A-G-E 11 /) and Zhou Long (Green song, a piece about nature and life that echoes oriental elegance), with the musician also engaged in splendid vocal trills.
I know, twenty years are a lot to review a record, but works like this have the rare quality of appearing as timeless and therefore allow different listening and reading at different times. One more star for the cd packaging, that is very nice.
I would also like to suggest you his latest excellent work dedicated to the music of Monk, Mao, Monk and Me: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/minxiaofen2