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Doneda, Michel / Frederic Blondy /  Tetsu Saitoh: Spring Road 16 (Relative Pitch)

After 30 years of collaboration between French saxophonist Michel Doneda and Japanese double bassist Tetsu Saitoh, this 2016 recording was to be their last due to the premature passing of Saitoh, the two heard here in a trio with pianist Frederic Blondy recorded for Radio France in a remarkable and consuming performances of fully free and often darkly savage improvisation.

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product information:

UPC: 5902249003468

Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPR 1121
Squidco Product Code: 30680

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recording at Radio France, in Paris, France, on April 16th 2016, by France Musique.


Tetsu Saitoh-double bass

Frederic Blondy-grand piano

Michel Doneda-soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone

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Artist Biographies:

Tetsu Saitoh (Contrabassist, Composer): "1955-2019. Born in Tokyo, Japan and heavily influenced by dance, Butoh, theatre, fine art, film, song, writing, Japanese folk music, Gagaku, Noh theatre, Western classical music, modern music, Tango music of Astor Piazolla, free improvisation, and Korean-Asian shamanism. Eurasian Echoes is a work connecting the cultures of Asia and Europe and was performed in Japan, Korea, and Singapore. Ombak Hitam was an event produced for the opening ceremony of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and the Za-Koenji Public Theatre in Tokyo. In 1994 he was invited to the International Contrabass Festival in Avignon, France. Since then, he has frequently visited Europe and performed with artists such as Michel Doneda and Barre Phillips. He was asked by the Kanagawa Philharmonic to compose and perform two double concerti. Additionally, he made five television programs about improvisation for Japanese public broadcaster NHK. He has also judged dance events, been a guest lecturer at Sophia and Waseda Universities, and performed and led workshops together with disabled performing artists. He has been a featured performer and led workshops at Contrabass Festivals around the world. In 2007 he founded the label Travessia which as of 2016 has produced 20 CDs and DVDs."

-Tetsu Saitoh Website (

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"Frédéric Blondy Born in Bordeaux in 1973.

On completing his studies in Mathematics and Physics at Bordeaux University, Frédéric Blondy dedicated himself full time to music, firstly as a jazz pianist and subsequently as a student at the Bordeaux National Conservatory where he studed piano, harmony, analysis and composition. Since moving to Paris he has worked with Marie-Christine Calvet at the "International Piano Center", refining a body-based approach to the instrument.

As musician, Frédéric Blondy has performed in many festivals and venues in Europe, North America, Middle East and Asia, working with, amongst others Paul Lovens, Rhodri Davies, Lê Quan Ninh, Michel Doneda, Joëlle Léandre, Urs Leimgruber, Thomas Lehn, Daunik Lazro, Radu Malfatti, John Tilbury, Otomo Yoshihide, Mats Gustafsson,.... and developed a thorough work with ensembles like Hubbub, Ethos.

As composer, he wrote music for films, videos, and danse and works with several ensembles.

In 2011 he created the Orchestre de Nouvelles Créations, Expérimentations et Improvisations Musicales (ONCEIM - ensemble of 30 musicians) to develop links between improvisers skills and written music. He is actually artistic director and composer for this ensemble.

He runs for several years a regular workshops on improvisation and contemporary sound practices, first at the Instants Chavirés then as part of the Rendez-Vous Contemporains of Saint Merry.He is a regular speaker at the Cité de la Musique in Paris for workshops on contemporary sound practices and new creation tools.

More occasionally he is requested in many festivals in Europe, North America and Japan to lead courses and presenting lectures aboutimprovisation and contemporary sound practices.

He has made almost twenty recordings published on different European labels. He is a regular guest on national radio for concerts or to participate in broadcasts. His concerts are regularly recorded and broadcast by national radios : France Musique, SWR, BBC,...

He is also involved in the promotion of improvised and contemporary music as well as visual arts through Rendez-Vous Contemporains of Saint Merry and the festival Crak in Paris inviting international artists for concerts, performances, screenings, meetings..."

-Frederic Blondy Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Michel Doneda (F) soprano saxophone, born in 1954, comes from the French South-West. He is a self-taught musician.

In 1980 he founded in Toulouse a reed trio: HIC ET NUNC, a group that toured quite a lot in France, playing mostly improvised music. At the same time he founded with musicians, dancers and actors a place called IREA (Institute for research and exchange between arts of improvisation).

In the following years, he participated in music projects with other artists and he became a regular guest of the Chantenay-Villedieu festival. Meeting other artists he developed a very personal approach with his music and his instrument in improvised music. During this period he played with Europeans musicians: Fred Van Hove, Phil Wachsmann, Max Eastley, Steve Beresford and Americans: John Zorn, Eliott Sharp, Elvin Jones

In 1985 he made his first record under his own name: TERRA (Nato record). At the same time he started playing regurlarly with Lê Quan Ninh, Daunik Lazro, Benat Achiary, Martine Altenburger, Barre Phillips, Paul Rogers, Tetsu Saitoh, Kazue Sawai. More recently he developed his work with Keith Rowe, Gunter Muller, Bhob Rainey, Giuseppe Ielasi and dancers as Masaki Iwana, Yukiko Nakamura, Valérie Métivier and poets, actors.

Since then, he has been very involved in the international improvised music scene, toured in Africa, Japan, Asia, USA, Canada, South America, Russia and with a lot of improvisers in Europe. In 1992 he founded in Toulouse with musicians, actors, poets, dancers the association: La Flibuste. As of today he recorded almost 50 records for European, Americans and Japanese labels."

-Timeart Ensemble Website (

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track listing:

1. No End Road Pt 1 10:38

2. No End Road Pt 2 28:03
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"French soprano saxophonist Michel Doneda is recognized as a leading avant-garde, experimental, and free jazz improviser. He has been performing with legendary Japanese bassist Tetsu Saitoh for 30 years. On this recording they are joined by French pianist Frederic Blondy.

Sadly, this was to be their final document, a recording from Radio France before Tetsu's premature death. This recording is an incandescent dance that united Tetsu Saitoh, Michel Doneda and Frederic Blondy on the stage of the France Musique studio. It is a moment of music that brings together three fellow bodies, three sensibilities, three histories, and also three musical instruments taken as a whole, their multiple points of passage, their most intimate and savage correspondences.

Michel Doneda provides some of the ferocious moments on this record. Whether blowing on his soprano or his sopranino, his technique is recognizable articulate blowing that doesn't overpower the rest of the trio, but enhances its colors."-Relative Pitch

"Michel Doneda recently lost one of his most faithful friends and musical companions, the double bass player Tetsu Saïtoh. Relative Pitch now offers us a superb album recorded on April 16, 2016 on Radio-France bringing together the two improvisers and the remarkable piano explorer Frédéric Blondy. Spring Road 16 is comprised of two collective improvisations under the title of No Road part 1 and No Road part 2. The name Spring Road has been part of their peregrinations as a duo since the first recording Doneda / Saitoh (Spring Road 01 / Scissors 01), because, without a doubt, it was a spring enterprise just like this new album recorded at the beginning of spring when nature and emotions are reborn, the title No Road is quite relevant, as their sound investigations bring together a multitude of paths, reflections, sounds: we are in an unknown territory even if these artists have been exploring continuously for years. There is no starting point and destination road. An intrinsic quality of their collective approach is the avoidance of the virtuosic "solo" syndrome for a complementary, extremely free, pooling of extreme-specific sounds that aggregate, combine in a wild state, float and rise in space defying gravity, notions of musical forms, a possible concept of improvisation,... This is not an album demonstrating knowledge that artists make on their instruments, sax, piano and double bass, not even a "clearing" or the slightly superficial idea of soundpainting. The three musicians seek the rarest sounds, incredible sound resources, vibrations and frequencies in the moment which prove to be the most apt to maintain their mysteries. - Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg

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