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Reviews

“The highest level of logic is the lowest level of magic” - William Parker

“[M]y intention/aspiration is to become music rather than to produce it.” - Toshi Makihara

"Both of these quotes, from the liner notes for this cd, seem to sum up a lot about the sounds on it. Sound that is conjured, second to second, where anything can happen, and frequently does. Hassay weaves lines and stops to ponder them simultaneously. Sparks and harmonics both fly from Parker¹s bow and Makihara keeps popping little bells and bangs in just the right places. It is a great rolling enveloping unfolding THING, and I¹m awfully glad to be along on the ride. It does sound to me like logic is not the motivation here, as it seems to be with much music. But magic does abound, in the flowing out of sound, abetted by the attention each player is paying. To my mind, this is what improvising is all about. No one is taking the center stage here, but they’re all three exploring together, hands on their instruments, hearts in the spirit. Odd sounds and tonalities are brought out, always carefully, and no one pushes too hard. Can you tell that I like this disc a lot? I’d like to single out Toshi Makihara for a second, if I may, because he is largely unknown and undeservedly so. I have seen him perform a few times and I’m always amazed and delighted by his playing, his sounds, his MUSIC. If you get a chance to see him play, please don’t miss out. I’m glad that there is a disc like this to hip folks to his drumming."

- jeph jerman, the improviser

“Alto saxophonist Gary Hassay leads a stellar trio called Ye Ren (a name with ‘no real meaning,’ according to Hassay) for its debut recording. The eight tracks are distinguished for their sensitive interplay, synergy, and unique style. With all-star bassist William Parker and sparkling Philadelphia percussionist Toshi Makihara as the other partners, the group achieves something special on almost every cut. Hassay boasts a lyrical, often subdued, self-effacing approach, which puts him in an attractive light. Eschewing some of the postmodern techniques embraced by other freestyle saxophonists, Hassay instead forges a different path, relying on a dry tone, clipped phrases, and short, thoughtful excursions. Makihara continues to impress as an upcoming giant, and fans of Parker will not be disappointed.” (3 1/2 Stars)"

- Steven Loewy, All-Music Guide

"Having never heard, much less heard of Gary Hassay, Another Shining Path is a revelation. To identify Hassay as the leader of Ye Ren would be to undermine the vision of this group, for this is truly a trio devoid of a soloist and rhythm section mentality. Instead, what this aggregation has in mind is stellar, free-floating, collective interplay. The inclusion of bassist William Parker virtually guarantees a solid recording, but on this he still manages to surprise and delight as he wedges himself between his two colleagues with some of his most demonstrative playing to date (which is no small undertaking). Producer Wayne Becker ahs done an impeccable service to this music, giving each player an equal slice of the sonic pie, allowing for a mix that is equal in clarity to the music itself. Percussionist Toshi Makihara is an amazingly subtle colorist and the delicacy of his approach would surely be lost on an inferior recording. Luckily, there is no such difficulty here, as Makihara’s brushwork give the music considerable space in addition to wide dynamic range, especially when entangled with the buzz of Parker’s grainy arco. For the most part, Hassay swoops and soars within the group fibers without being dogmatic. His tone is arid, and his attack is incredibly laid back, sounding cautious not to crowd the mix without playing tentatively. While this groups tend to favor reflective, often stealthily exploratory modes of expression, it can still turn the heat up when it needs to without resorting to a squealing assault. While other trios have previously gone down this path, kudos should go out to Ye Ren for really adding their own twist and producing a stirring debut.”

- Jon Morgan, Signal To Noise, Sept/Oct 1999

“This trio’s compelling rapport grows as their dynamic program unfolds. During the slow free blues pulse of It Was Rich’s Race, bass maestro William Parker alternates between pizzicato and split-tone drone arco passages with awesome ease. Drummer Toshi Makihara matches Parker for expressive range and dramatic technique from delicate percussion fills in A Fork In the Road and Northern Lights to the brash bite of Ante Up. Gary Hassay’s vibrant alto sax animates vital band performances from the free fractals of Night Train and spacious minimalism of 7th Street Prowl to the intensifying aggression of Circumambulate.”

- Coda, Issue 287, Sept/Oct 1999

“Ye Ren (Gary Hassay/William Parker/Toshi Makihara) – ANOTHER SHINING PATH: 69 minutes of improv that will thrill those who can’t deal with form. Hassay’s sax will be the “frosting on the cake”. This material is deliberate, & (at times) a bit slow paced for blood that’s used to improv that screeches along at rocket pace (one notable exception to that rule is cut 7, Ante Up, which clips right along nicely). OTOH, if you’re in a reflective mood, & want something that will help you sort the wheat from the drivel, this is the right path for you. I’d advise the listener to settle in somewhere comfortable with a good set of headphones. Makihara’s percussion & drums are miked perfectly, as is Parker’s acoustic bass. The players have a real sense of “team”, to the listener’s benefit… no battles over who gets in front, very nicely blended & a great mix! Comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who want some skillfully played contemplative improvisation.”

- Dick Metcalfe,Improvijazzation Nation, Issue #37 (April 1999)

"Have you ever heard William Parker play bass? If so, are you still unconvinced of his mastery? If Another Shining Path won’t convince you, your ears are tragically closed. Take the very first track, “A Fork in the Road.” Listen to how Parker weaves bass figures in and out and around the thoughtful alto of Gary Hassay. Listen to how all three players create a new and free soundscape of lyrical depth, without indulging in any of the clichés or tired screams of the now thirty-plus-year-old New Thing. Then see how the temperature slowly rises on “7th Street Prowl.” Note how Parker increases the tension, slackens it again, brings matters to a boil, and supports Hassay as he returns again to calm and searching long tones. Nor is even that the end of the ride. This trio shows here that it has the ability to pack worlds, universes, into seven minutes thirteen. “Night Train” continues this action in a somewhat tenser mode, with Hassay fluttering in the high registers as Parker bows mellifluously. Here for the first time Hassay approaches the flat-out horn technique of Kidd Jordan, Charles Gayle, et al, but only briefly, and, with Parker’s help, dramatic coherence. “Circumambulate,” “It Was Rich’s Race,” and “Ante Up” are as rich and multifaceted as the rest of the disc, with Hassay particularly strong in the quietest passages. Toshi Makihara is no slouch either. He is stentorian and effective on “Come What May” (where Parker prods Hassay with powerful, intermittent rhythmic figures) and is the prime architect of the delicate, ringing opening to “Northern Lights.” All three players, however, (especially Parker and his wonderfully whining bow) contribute a great deal to the crepuscular atmosphere of this piece.

A lyrical, surprising, and superbly executed series of performances."

- Robert Spencer, allaboutjazz.com

"Mi papel en cualquier banda, minuto a minuto es ayudar, navegar la musica para que no tenga puntos muertos”, ha dicho el contrabajista William Parker respecto a su forma de tocar. Lo que en palabras parece sencillo es todo un reto, maxime si algunos de estos grupos son dirigidos por gente tan demandante como Derek Bailey, Cecil Taylor, David S. Ware, Charles Gayle o John Zorn. Lo mismo sucede en el trio Ye Ren donde el contrabajo man imaginativo de la escena improvisada neoyorquina establece atmosferas, da pie a monologos y conversaciones, y abre la brecha para la experimentacion colectiva con sus companeros Gary Hassy, en el sax alto, y Toshi Makihara, en las percusiones. Se trata del primer disco de Ye Ren, un colectivo que no otorga espacio a las complacencias. En torno a un contrabajo organico, infatigable, profusode ideas, Hassay encuentra un terreno fertll para improvisar desde susurros que semejan una brisa, hasta cacofonias que sacuden los sentidos dek escucha. Makihara y sus percusiones libres tejen sonidos que desafian a sis companeros a hurgar en otros terrenos, mas escarpedos a medida que transcurre el tempo. Del free mas enloquecido al manejo preciso dek silenclo – que tambien tiene su ritmo- Another Shining Path manifesta que sobra creatividad en cada uno de los miembros del trio. Si este es el inicio de una colaboracion impecable, esperamis anhelantes la proxima entrega."

- Xavier Quitarto, La Pulse! Latina June 2000

"L’improvisation est un chemin difficile – l’essence du jazz dit-on – qui met en danger autant celui qui crée que celui qui écoute. Toujours sur le fil du rasoir, les morceaux improvisés que nous livrent Hassay, Parker et Makihara démontrent cette prise de risque permanente. Oscillant entre vaines tentatives et moments de grâce, les trois complices échangent en permanence, se règlent et tâtonnent avant d’être frappés par l’éclair d’une magie symbiotique (” Night Train “). Tandis que Parker utilise toutes les techniques de la contrebasse (dont l’archet qu’il affectionne depuis longtemps) et que Makihara déchaîne ses foudres avec ardeur, Gary Hassay laisse planer sa voix zen qui s’élève dans cette tempête tranquille avant de s’y laisser prendre. Montées, descentes, traversées, égarements, fuites et retrouvailles sont le lot de ce disque touchant et indéfinissable. Comme des personnages de Pirandello les musiciens sont en quête d’une identité, d’auteur et de hauteur, clamant leur liberté en faisant retentir leur chant intime comme des cornes de brume dans le lointain. Objet mystérieux et déroutant, le disque de Ye Ren (le nom sans signification du groupe décidé lui aussi de façon improvisée) s’écarte vertigineusement des normes de l’industrie musicale et nous démontre qu’au confluent de l’improvisation et de la passion se cache un territoire sacré, une mer intérieure où les courants peuvent être plus forts que dans les océans du quotidien. Cette ” autre voie brillante ” ne s’ouvrira probablement pas au plus grand nombre mais s’impose comme une curiosité essentielle pour les oreilles curieuses."

- Michael Lellouche, Le Jazz

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released July 12, 2015

Recorded in August 2, 1998. Originally released on Drimala Records. Digital release July 12, 2015.

Personnel: Gary Hassay, saxophones; William Parker, bass;Toshi Makihara, percussion

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Gary Joseph Hassay Allentown, Pennsylvania

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