"The music flows quietly yet intensely, full of emotions, straight to the heart. An atmospheric, dialogue that goes beyond the notes played. A great album, which can be listened to repeatedly"
Atzko Kohashi - piano
Tony Overwater - double bass
Total time: 48:27
Original recording format DXD 352kHz.
The emotional density with which Tony Overwater and Japanese pianist Atzko Kohashi deal with John Coltrane's compositions reveals how they have internalized the spirituality of his music.
The crescent moon, which reflects the sunlight and waxes day by day, is like a piece waiting to be fully formed. You do not only entrust your dreams but you set your sights and your hopes, looking forward to the future and preparing to take action.
'Crescent' was recorded in the midst of the pandemic in the Beauforthuis, a former church now acoustically optimized music venue in Austerlitz in the Netherlands.
Inspired by John Coltrane’s Crescent, this exceptional recording display two musicians bonding through a deep desire to passionately realize the beauty of these compositions. The extraordinary acoustics of the church, combined with the beauty of the surrounding snow-covered fields, helped set the mood for this impressive release.
There is a fluid quality to this music. Kohashi's beautifully round, pearly piano sound colors beautifully with Overwater's lyrical bass. 'Crescent' is a wonderful, intimate album by two great musicians.
For some reason, we feel strangely soothed when we listen to John Coltrane's music. His music definitely has a therapeutic effect on us, but that's not all. We feel that Coltrane’s music encourages us and shows us the direction we should go.
In January 2021, whilst having a rehearsal for a coming recording session, we suddenly came up with the beautiful melody of Coltrane’s song Crescent. And there were more to come to our mind. From a young age, we deeply admired John Coltrane and listened to his music countless times, but somehow we’d never had an opportunity to play those songs before. And now, after all those years, each song sounded so fresh and new to us. Of course, it was quite a challenge to play Coltrane's songs with just piano and bass, but when we tried, it fitted surprisingly well. There is always something new to discover. At the same time, we even felt our energies were recharged quietly from within.
In the midst of a prolonged pandemic, it is no wonder that Crescent connected with our hope to realize this recording session. It is said that people have long considered the gradually waxing moon to be a symbol of the fulfillment of their wishes and that praying to the crescent moon was a special occasion. The crescent moon, which reflects the sunlight and waxes day by day, is like a piece waiting to be fully formed. You do not just entrust your dreams but you set your sights and your hopes, looking forward to the future and preparing to take action. That’s exactly what we experienced through this recording.
We also noticed something during the rehearsals. The healing effect of Coltrane's music comes from the blues, which was deeply rooted in him. Whether Coltrane is playing modal and complex passages or singing a ballad in a relaxed manner, such "blues" gives the listeners a sense of comfort. "There was always a blues feeling at the root of Coltrane's music", said Saxophonist Benny Golson, a friend of Coltrane's from his youth. We are glad that we can bring back this blues feeling that tends to fade away in European jazz.
Our duo is not trying to meet on common ground. We respect, even celebrate each other’s differences: different sensibility, different sense of rhythm, and different musical phrasing. That’s what makes our duo interesting, we think. Just as the bright crescent moon has the unlit part of the moon to complete its full shape, the sound of our duo is also there, sometimes in the shadows, sometimes in the light, changing its shape from time to time.
It’s just like Yin and Yang; one thing can’t exist without another. We come from different countries and different musical backgrounds, but somehow we fit together. Music can make people free and open-minded!
- Atzko Kohashi & Tony Overwater
The recording session
It had snowed heavily the night before the recording session. Due to the pandemic, the traffic was sparse, enabling me to navigate carefully as I drove my car filled with high-end recording equipment through a beautiful white landscape towards the recording location. The hall of the church is not too large and its many wooden building elements ensure a beautiful warm resonance perfect for jazz and chamber music.
The Beauforthuis has two grand pianos, an old Steinway, and a modern Fazioli. Atzko is very enthusiastic about the Fazioli. This piano in combination with the acoustics of the Beauforthuis is the reason we chose to record there. Searching for the optimum spot to place an instrument is just as important as mic placement. So we took the time searching for and finding the ‘sweet spot’, where the piano and bass would benefit optimally from the lush sound of the hall, and where Atzko and Tony could hear and see each other well, enabling them to record without headphones.
I chose a simple setup. My trusty Josephson C700S stereo microphone, as the main microphone capturing both instruments and creating the basic sound stage. As spot microphones, I used a Josephson C700S in the piano combined with two Josephson C617 omni-directional microphones above at the hammers to add a touch of attack. For the double bass, at the height of the plucking hand I placed a Josephson C700A to add a little bit of definition. Atzko and Tony have played together for a couple of years. I have been fortunate to witness the duo develop their own sound, being in complete balance musically while at the same time keeping their own distinct individuality.
It is always a pleasure to listen to and record them. Snow-covered hills are beautiful but the accompanying low temperatures and low humidity are unfortunately not favorable for the tuning stability of a grand piano. Kudus to our excellent piano tuner Naomi, who had to pull out all the stops to get the grand piano through the day. The warm reception in the Beauforthuis, the music, the musicians as well as the special weather conditions made this recording a very memorable experience.
Much listening pleasure to you all!
Recording, mixing and mastering by Frans de Rond
Recorded at Beauforthuis Austerlitz, The Netherlands, on February 14th 2021
Produced by Atzko Kohashi & Tony Overwater
Piano tuning: Naomi van Schoot
Main system - Josephson C700S
Piano - Josephson C700S, Josephson C617 (2x)
Bass - Josephson C700A
Mic-pre's: Merging Horus
Cables by AudioQuest
Speakers: TAD Compact Evolution One
Poweramp: Moon 760A
Mixing headphones: Hifiman HE1000se / Sennheiser HD800S
Photo of front cover by Tony Overwater
Design of front cover by Odesign.nl
Catalog Number: SL-1060A