Gato Libre is back, carrying on the musical tradition that marked its last recording, Nomad
(No Man's Land, 2007). Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), Satoko Fujii (accordion), Kazuhiko Tsumura (guitar) and Norikatsu Koreyasu (bass) play with an agile sense for melody and detail that suits the compositions to a nicety. Tamura uses Gato Libre to get away from the improvisatory music that marks his other projects, where the written word is more often than not a speck on the horizon, rather than the take-off point. Here he shows a gentler side, one that ministers to a warm, happy, fuzzy feeling with melodies that are downright lovely. He and the rest jut off on an occasional tangent, knifing the progression or breaking it up, adding to the sense of fun.
"Sunny Spot" is delectable. The lyrical melody is given a stunning presence by Tsumura and then by Fujii. There is a touch of flamenco that comes through handclaps and the chord structures on the guitar. The whole flows eloquently, even if Tamura decides to shoot in some flurries and flattened notes.
Tamura is the fount of melodicism on "Reconcile." He plays with deep feeling, indulging in the melody. Fujii and Tsumura are sympathetic purveyors of the line he has set, and together they turn this into one of the strongest selections on the CD.
"Patrol," an elegant waltz, has Tamura gliding seamlessly, with Tsumura adding a second voice with his run of notes and chords. After sensing the melody and improvising within its bounds, Fujii flies out and brings in her own perspective. Tamura follows, briefly blowing open-ended notes, before they all settle into the sway.
Kuro is another impressive release from Gato Libre.
Personnel: Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Satoko Fujii: accordion; Kazuhiko Tsumura: guitar; Norikatsu Koreyasu: bass.