The European tour (March 25 to April 2, 2000) of Peter Brötsmann, Keiji Haino and myself was really demanding. Given the concept of improvisation (implying a presence confronted by many forces including life and death), it stands to reason that improvisation is itself based on a difficult situation. So it may go without saying that our tour concerts were demanding. But I would nonetheless like to talk about the demanding connection which can (and in our case did) arise from improvisatory collaboration.
Brötsmann, Haino and I had played together only once, in Japan, in 1992. Since then we had never played all together, although several times two of us had played duo gigs. We had all thought about the three of us playing together again someday, and had talked about it, with no results. The plan was finally realized this year, and one of those concerts is recorded on this CD.
I have played music, especially improvisation, for a long time. The biggest question I have about improvisation is how freely a musician can exist. Collaborative improvisation should be successful and problem-free as long as all of the musicians share a common will, even if they all are facing in completely different directions. But sometimes musicians improvising together can fall into a trap, so that collaboration does not work at all. They do not carry out the collaboration according to arrangements which they had mentally constructed in advance. The most important thing is that each musician seriously consider and know whether he has looked into himself deeply enough before the collaboration occurs; that is, whether the musicians can instantly recognize vibrations among themselves, so that they can progress further and further.
I titled this CD "Shadows." The listener is free to imagine the meaning. I have been wanting to make a CD with this title, because recently the word "shadow" comes into my mind when I think about improvisation. The "shadow" I think of does not have a dark image; it implies something hiding a promising possibility.
Playing free improvisation with other musicians sounds like a very easy thing to do. In fact, I think it is really tough, and that each musician has to rely mainly on himself. This situation sometimes makes me think of the word "shadow." Words like "vision," "illusion," "nothingness," etc. each become real in their shadow element. I feel that these three musicians' collaboration is like that "shadow" I think about.
July 2000, Shoji Hano