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Gato Libre: Kuro (2008)

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Gato Libre: Kuro How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

This album is a bit unusual for trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and his group Gato Libre. While many of his other recordings are in a free jazz mode—notably as an accompanist for his wife, pianist Satoko Fujii—Kuro seems largely intent in showing a varying picture of Tamura's musical scope.

Fujii forgoes her usual piano for accordion on Kuro.On the opening "Sunny Spot," she provides a tandem accompaniment with guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura that enhances this otherwise attractive melody. There is also a hint of ambient music dropped on this track. The following "Patrol" sounds like a European folk tune, and again the combination of accordion and guitar provides a cushion for Tamura's trumpet. "Battle" is just that: a six-minute-plus track rife with squeals, honks and other musical tools of the avant-garde. Looking at the liner notes provides an explanation that "Battle" is merely "a tense, if at times whimsical, mélange of an actual story of conflict, resolution and transcendence...." On further listens, a more typical response might be to reach for ear plugs.

However, there is peace and tranquility ahead with "Reconcile." On several tracks, Fujii's accordion and Tsumura's guitar enter flamenco and tango territory, in which the accordion approximates the Argentinean bandoneon. Tamura offers up one more avant-garde piece with "Beyond," and finally concludes with "Kuro," a tune of melody and serenity.

This is a curious album, offering a varied menu of musical ports of call from around the world, and is not afraid to display the group's affinity for free jazz.

Track Listing: Sunny Spot; Patrol; Battle; Reconcile; Together; Beyond; Kuro.

Personnel: Natuki Tamura: trumpet; Satoko Fujii: accordion; Kazuhiko Tsumura: guitar; Norikatsu Koreyasu: bass.

Record Label: Libra Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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