Like Chick Corea's now classic "Children's Songs" for solo piano, world-renowned classical and jazz bass clarinetist Michael Lowenstern has created a masterpiece for bass clarinet and his self-described "transparent technology." Whatever this technology is, it's simply gorgeous in the title track, "Ten Children," creating textures of lush bass clarinet sounds, complimented by Lowenstern on "body percussion" and the occasional synthesized sound. The mood is at once child-friendly - as indicated by the title of the disc - but also deeply thoughtful, as at home in the foreground as it is something to meditate by.
Clearly inspired by the Corea disc, Lowenstern wrote these pieces for his own daughter, re-examining the way he writes, improvises and uses technology to condense and simplify his own work. (His previous release, "1985, " incidentally, was a technological tour-de-force). The result: in "Ten Children" the synthesized sounds, spoken word and sound-bytes have taken a vacation, allowing his bass clarinet to open up and take the whole stage.
Also on this disc is "Sha," a jazz-klezmer study in bass clarinet loops, drum loops and funky Middle-eastern rhythms. "Sha," loosely translated from the Yiddish, means "Hush." "It was written during the first year of fatherhood for me," Lowenstern writes in his notes, "but despite the title, it marks my discovery of the balance between music and family." An ambient, Yiddish funk fest.
So, if you've never heard Michael Lowenstern, and especially if you've never heard the bass clarinet, you owe it to yourself to check out this fine disc. "Ten Children," as he puts it on his website, is "for adults from 1-101," and is a musical gem.