Walking on the Tiger’s Tail: When facing danger, one behaves with wisdom, while understanding the peril without provoking it, and remaining both quiet & determined (1). Most of the titles found on this album were inspired by Taoist stories full of this paradoxical poetry.
Butterfly Dream: After dreaming that he was a butterfly, Zhuangzi woke up wondering whether he was still Zhuangzi, or rather a butterfly dreaming that he was Zhuangzi (2).
Yielding Water: the irresistible strength of water lies in its yielding quality. Therefore, weaknesses can erode the stone, flexibility can subdue the strong & the rigid (3).
Totsu! is an exclamation supposedly uttered when a Zen student achieves enlightment. The sound also imitates the dry crackle the pawlonia leaf makes as it scratches the ground upon falling.
Wingless Flight: It is easy to stop walking: the trouble is to walk without touching the ground. You have heard of winged creatures flying. You have never heard of flying without wings. You have heard of men being wise with knowledge. You have never heard of men wise without knowledge (4).
I wrote this music after a tough period in my life which paradoxically brought me to a kind of tranquillity that I was both experiencing & searching. This led me to Chinese ancient books - symbols of a universal force & wisdom. Once relieved, I wanted to share & to build on the music of those moments with two very dear friends : Art Lande, the piano player who strongly influenced my first two albums ´ Miracles ª(1989) & ´ Zanzibar ª(1992), & his long time musical partner, Paul McCandless, the outstanding wind player. The three of us have such a great understanding of one another that I wanted a special orchestration for this reunion. Thus the choice of a 'bass-free' band, in which each of us would take up the bass role. The highlighted percussions of Jamey Haddad recall the distant lands where those rhythms find their roots.
I would like to deeply thank all those who expressed their friendship when my health was weak, & I dedicate this music to those who are now facing the Tiger. Music has sustained me as a mother sustains her child, & Music reminds us that each second is a miracle !
Nguyên Lê, December 2004
(1) Yijing,#10 (2) Zhuangzi, #2 (3) Daodejing, #78 (4) Zhuangzi, #4