Judy Bailey (piano)
This is an unashamedly lush, ambient, spacious album, evoking a sense of mystery as it weaves together the strands of two apparently distant musical tonalities. For all that Tühonohono sounds like a New Zealand landscape - in the best sense of what that might mean.
The artists became enthusiastic about the prospect of a musical dialogue between piano and taonga püoro (traditional Mäori instruments), after meeting on a previous Rattle project. Tühonohono was a completely improvised recording. The open sessions allowed Richard and Judy to develop and explore a common music language. Steve Garden was then to take a crucial role, not just capturing the sound of the instruments, but shaping the form of the music in an extended editing process.
Review by Graham Reid, Time Out NZ Herald, March 2005
Innovative and entrancing tapestry of traditional Mäori instruments and piano which defies and transcends musical categories.
I have heard nothing before in New Zealand music like pianist Judy Bailey's exceptional album. Featuring Richard Nunns on traditional Mäori instruments, with producer/arranger Steve Garden as a musical equal, its improvised music invites comparisons with the best the European jazz label ECM has to offer.
It is music of space and consideration, of mutual understanding, and of a reflective nature.
Nunns' use of various koauau (flutes) calls to mind some of the spiritually inclined music by American flautist Paul Horn. Bailey's quiet but emotional melodicism is the perfect counterpart in creating music which has a timelessness about it, yet also a contemporary quality.
In contemporary music - r'n'b, soundtracks, and so on - Mäori instruments have most often been used for their atmospheric quality and, while some of that remains true in places here, Nunns also extends the sometimes limited range of the instruments into haunting melodies.
Tracks such as The Other Door/Tera Atu Kuaha exist between gentle free jazz from Bailey (who sometimes strums and plucks within the body of her instrument) and an ethereal dream state conjured up by Nunns. The brooding Returning/Hokinga Mai is more disturbing.
This is neither traditional Mäori music nor is it jazz as some might understand it. But the appropriately titled Tühonohono is an extraordinary and utterly compelling album.
RAT-D011 (November, 2004)
Recording and Production: Steve Garden