Review of Close Embrace of the Earth (Abzu) in Cadence Magazine 30/1, January 2004 p. 48.

Two woodwind players and a violinist compose the reaching, probing trio of Michalowski/ Khoury/Bukowski on (Close Embrace of the Earth). Moody clarinet, explosive violin, and high-pitched saxophone sounds send the initial message signifying the intensity built into this music, which develops further into an open forum for free interaction of challenging dimensions. Wide diversity marks the tonal range pouring from these musicians' instruments, giving the program a deep bottom, robust midrange, and exhilarating high end. Bukowski and Michalowski both play alto/bass clarinets and baritone saxophone in addition to several other reed varieties, and although stage positioning is not noted, one can surmise the specific source using the location depicted on the liner photo-graph. They encompass Khoury in a ring of aural warmth, and together the three artists weave complicated threads into an integrated pattern marked by passion and compassion.

The recording is an unstructured collection gleaned from three live performances in Ann Arbor. Each selection is a sculptured work denoting a high degree of communication among the three free spirits. The overriding emotion, however, leans toward the sullen side. A sense of melancholy pervades the songs, even when the musicians reach pinnacles of excitement. Khoury's strings sing out with frenzied energy while Michalowski and Bukowski explore opposite ends of the sound spectrum, yet the music retains its deep, disconsolate persona. Despite this, the trio is able to instill an aura of  calm through these brooding conversations. Michalowski, Khoury, and Bukowski speak a refined language where inner feelings dictate the direction they collectively traverse. They carry one along on this extended mind journey to coalesce all traveling souls into their contemplative circle.

Frank Rubolino