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May 2003

Joe Giardullo/Sangeeta Michael Berardi
Art Spirit
Boxholder Records

Reedist Joe Giardullo and guitarist Sangeeta Michael Berardi's Art Spirit is a concept record that attempts to demonstrate the conceptual link between music and other arts, the kindred intensity and creative air that binds them; they've certainly proven their point on this album. Art Spirit is filled with simmering beauty, and it's a collective presentation in which neither musician's concerned about individual dominance.

Giardullo's playing on bass clarinet is especially probing, thoughtful and striking, while his alto and soprano performances never becomes cliched or predictable, and his flute solos have a lilting, poignant quality as well. He uses microtonalism and extended techniques to further play with timbre and tone. Berardi is just as careful with his statements, sometimes playing light, flickering responses to Giardullo, other times responding with more fire or flair but never turning things into a confrontational or combative situation.

Yet things don't become so contemplative and ethereal that the songs lack power or depth. "Aspectations," for example, has a soothing central melody and a crisp, crackling middle section, capped by a strong ending. "Music House," "Bilbao Curve" and "Spirit Window" are long enough for the duo to show their solo talents while also displaying their affinity for playing sensitively with one another. This session's more for those interested as much in music's healing, spiritual side as its raw, visceral one.

Originally published in May 2003
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