To Be Surrounded By Beautiful, Curious, Breathing, Laughing Flesh Is Enough

· by Alain Brunet

Deerhoof’s singer and bassist Satomi Matsuzaki, guitarist and bassist Ed Rodriguez, guitarist John Dieterich, and drummer Greg Saunier, offer six reinterpretations of their own pieces, and five others in collaboration with the famous African-American trumpeter, composer and improviser Wadada Leo Smith. At the confluence of avant-rock and improvised music, this is a perfect example of cross-pollination. Rock songs, complex metrics, easy listening, and contemporary jazz merge here in atmospheres conducive to an exhilarating encounter. One has to observe that the avant-garde trumpeter finds his place in Deerhoof’s singular world. 

“To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,” wrote Walt Whitman in his famous book I Sing The Body Electric, published in 1955. This sentence became the title of the album recorded in front of a live audience in 2018 at Red Fish, as part of the Winter Jazzfest in New York, well before the events surrounding the arrest and death of George Floyd. Proceeds from this album will be donated to Black Lives Matter.

Wadada Leo Smith sees it as an effort to redeploy democracy, which is in trouble in many countries around the world: “True democratic principles demand that all human beings respect the rights of others, and that we develop the capacity to share the wealth, the power and the earth and the sky together, with the condition that we collectively work to build a peaceful world. For all of us!” 

On a more musical note, Greg Saunier, Deerhoof’s drummer and lead composer, adds: “To me, democracy and improvisation are linked, and they appear spontaneously at times like these, when strangers come together to take action, and there is no rulebook.” 

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