Canadian percussionist Ryan Scott can play three percussion concerti composed by Maki Ishii from memory. Do your best to comprehend this before you start Googling names. When was the last time you memorized a piece of music? Was it from the 20th century percussion repertoire? Did it last close to an hour? Next, make the mental jump to the late Maki Ishii, Japan’s answer to the “What if John Cage took too much Ritalin?” question. Each of the three pieces on Maki Ishii Live is bolstered by the presence of Canada’s Espirit Orchestra to take on a life of their own. “Saidoki” walks an oddly subtle line between mysteriously arranged strings and some clang-arific auxiliary work. “Concertante for Marimba” is the creepy, cartoony tip-toe, simmering strongly for twenty minutes without ever being brought to a boil. The closer “South-Fire-Summer” pulls out all of the stops when it comes to the toys buried in the back of the orchestra, escorting a harmonically tense blanket all of the way to one of the more atonal, unnerving and exciting climaxes of the album. This is not your father’s Provocative Percussion.
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