Improvisation, when it works, relies on deep conversations, patience, and openness. And duo settings are places where this kind of attention to simple hand gestures, nods, or shifts in rhythm or intensity can alter the music rapidly. They can also be places for sound to become so blurred it’s difficult to know who’s leading whom. Drummers, in such situations, get to drive the music well beyond keeping time. Rashied Ali’s duo work with both John Coltrane and Frank Lowe provide scorching examples of this, as do Chris Corsano’s rapid-fire drum kit flurries against Bill Orcutt, Mike Flower, or Bill Nace. New Mexico-based Tatsuya Nakatani is a percussive chameleon who has played straight-up jazz on a kit with Billy Bang, but who is also known for his spontaneous, playful solo gong orchestral performances. On Interactivity, Nakatani allows Asheville-based improviser Shane Parish’s guitar excursions a place to stretch, to become tangled, or to scurry off in any number of directions, seemingly at once.
Parish, who is at home as a solo player where he often deconstructs folk forms, can also be found in duo settings. He stayed put as his band Ahleulachatistas shrunk over time from a trio to a more recent drum and guitar duo, where both players have reveled in math-y hunks of rock-ish takes on anything from sheer noise to Indonesian Gamelan. YouTube videos show him, often playing a classical guitar, as he does here, in instant collaboration with kindred risk-takers such as Luke Stewart or Jacob Wick. And while Nakatani has dropped his bowed gongs and minimalist bliss behind Kawabata Makoto’s distorted guitar navigations, Interactivity, Shane and Nakatani’s second release, allows him to engage with an acoustic player where, unlike their other album, 2013’s Anatomy of a Moment, form is entirely done away with.