High Wire is a project a long time in the brewing, and Coat Cooke and Rainer Wiens are really excited about this duo set of improvisations.
Rainer brings an intense exporation of otherworldly sounds on prepared guitar and on thumb piano. You hear him explore the highly propulsive rhythms of central African music in a uniquely personal and compelling eclectic vocabulary and style.
Coat’s voice on the saxophone has an intriguing and enticing character that shape shifts according to the context that he plays in. His mischievous sense of sonic exploration, melodic restlessness and rhythmic abandon have the listener truly on the edge of their seat, wondering what comes next. These two masterful improvisors are clearly having a great time and it’s the kind fun that is totally entrancing to the listener.
"The pairing of Coat Cooke and Rainer Wiens in High Wire, results in a performance of dualities. Complexity versus simplicity, density versus scarcity are all at play here. Wiens creates complex sound environments on eclectic guitars and thumb pianos while Cooke soars overhead with clear, clean lines. Interaction is evident and the music is highly listenable. Drawing on sax antecedents, Cooke’s horn moves from the lightness of John Handy to the warmth of Jan Garbarek, ultimately shifting into a voice that is singularly his own. Rainer Wiens, for his part, evokes the spirit of performers such as Fred Frith, Hans Reichel, and the band Oregon, yet also creates his own unique complexity of sound. This is a CD that sounds familiar but is new, that is comfortable but edgy, and that contains an inner harmony even in its most discordant moments. This is a mature work of sensitive improvisation at its finest, and currently one of my favourite CDs in this idiom." —Randy Raine-Reusch, Musicworks
"When two of Canada's master free improvisers get together and get down, for sure it's going to be a high wire act full of danger and possibilities. When West coast saxophonist Coat Cooke and Montreal prepared guitarist Rainer Wiens play, they come ready for adventure, risk-taking and deep listening. "Storm Eye" is replete with swirling tenor saxophone and gamelan-like guitar thrumming ― turbulent, eddying, circular and open-ended. Cooke switches to soprano for "Elevation," his approach getting increasingly dense and dramatic over changing ostinato patterns by Wiens on thumb piano. The piece is free-jazz landed in an African village; its on-first-blush seeming "contradictions" working beautifully. At over ten minutes, it's the longest of the six tracks, and you can tell the twosome were so pleased with how things were going that they didn't want to stop ― good in-the-moment call. No drums? No problem. Wiens creates an alternate-sounding alternative by using hand drumming on his guitar for "Monkey Trails." This is high wire improvising that deserves to be heard." - Glen Hall (Exclaim Magazine)
"The versatile textures and unorthodox approach to the guitar by Rainer ("Space Landing", with its trembling, metallic noises would be a perfect background for a suspense sci-fi scene) fit perfectly with Cooke's saxophones, a very individual voice, focused and restrained, carefully treading between the surprising melodic grip of his improvisation and the attendant tonal nuances. Surreal and imaginative, evocative, the duo's music is personal yet universal in its scope, its focus, its ability to listen, react and co-create. A much welcomed release, do remember to put Vancouver on your jazz map and keep listening. A highly rewarding, if unexpected, treasure." - Jazzowy (Jazz Alchemist)
"Well named, this album is a document of daring acts on the sonic tight rope, and it's the sonic funambulism that gives this album its edge. Cooke balances on Weins' rhythms precariously, navigating deftly between Wiens' thumb piano wires and his percussive guitar work. A texturist, Rainier's approach to guitar is unusual and unexpected. Overall, High Wire is full of original playing and fascinating ideas." - Paul Acquaro (Free Jazz Collective)
"High Wire's six tracks travel through a selection of moods that find both musicians in an often meditative mood. Particularly on “Elevation,” which slithers around a calming thumb piano riff by Wiens as Cooke coaxes his instrument into breathy flights that always seem ready to drift off before he reels them back again. It’s a delightful effect, mirrored later in the guitar and sax mix on the title track. Highly recommended and, for people who might have some fear of pure improvisational music, not brash or blaring at any time." - Stuart Derdeyn (Vancouver Province)