PNEUMA (πνεῦμα) is an ancient Greek word for "breath", "spirit" or "soul". This new quartet features four improvisers / composers: vocalist Ayelet Rose Gottlieb and clarinetists James Falzone, Francois Houle and Michael Winograd. Pneuma’s sound is kaleidoscopic - many worlds entangled - with extended techniques and layered effects blending with soulfulness and an exposed vulnerability. Jewish-music intertwines with contemporary classical compositions and free-jazz improvisations. Pneuma’s instrumentation is unusual and full of breath, allowing every band member to reimagine their role and find their ground in new and innovative ways.
For an artist like James Falzone, genres and categories are porous. In short, James is a clarinetist, composer, improviser, and educator who works at the intersection of jazz, classical and world music traditions. But the story is so much more interesting than that, as they often are. If you stopped there, you wouldn't even know about his training as an artisan bread baker!
Ayelet Rose Gottlieb
Jerusalem-born vocalist/composer/improviser Ayelet Rose Gottlieb creates from within the details of every-day life, shedding a musical spotlight on the golden moments hidden in the cracks of the mundane. Her distinct sound is rich and layered with influences from a variety of musical traditions, building on her Middle-Eastern and European lineage.
François studied classical music and played avant-jazz before it was called that. He has been an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts in for two years, and at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy. Based in Vancouver, François is a leader in the city’s music community and is considered by many to be Canada’s leading exponent of the clarinet.
Michael Winograd is one of the most respected and versatile working musicians in klezmer music today. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Michael spends much of his time in transit, performing and teaching throughout the world. He has played along side Itzhak Perlman, The Klezmer Conservatory Band, Socalled, Budowitz, Alicia Svigals and more.
“It’s strange to think that a band of three clarinets and a single voice can conjure up a world of infinite possibilities, but that’s what the Vancouver/Seattle/Brooklyn quartet Pneuma delivered in its debut performance of their program “Who Has Seen the Wind?”. With Ayelet Rose Gottlieb’s caramel-rich voice exploring several poetic variations on human experience, instrumentalists James Falzone, François Houle, and Michael Winogrand worked together as one—even as they uncorked everything from klezmer lamentation to out-there sonic surgery. Music this beautiful, intricate, and heartfelt deserves to be celebrated—and treasured.”
— Alexander Varty of The Georgia Straight of Vancouver, BC
PNEUMA zooms in-and-out, shifting perspectives from the very personal to the global, from intimacy to a loud roar. The poetry (sung in English) comes from many corners of the world including Christina Rossetti (UK), Warsan Shire (Somalia / UK), Forugh Farrokhzad (Iran), James Joyce (Ireland), Mayumi Terada (Japan), and Ono no Komachi (9th century Japan). These texts coincide with wordless pieces such as Gottlieb's “Neither You Nor I”, inspired by a solo by the late bassist Ora Boasson-Horev. Pneuma made their premiere at the 2017 Vancouver International Jazz Festival and their debut album, “Who Has Seen The Wind?” is anticipated for release in Spring 2018 on Songlines Records.
Eyal Hareuveni - Salt Peanuts - June 15, 2019