Hideaki "Heday" Tokunaga Quintet: Live at Plaza de la Raza (2006)
The music they produce has an almost ethereal quality at times, but that doesn't in any way subvert its effortlessly swinging core. At its heart are Tokunaga and vibraphonist Richard Greenblatt, whose gentle melodicism sets the compass for the Littletons, bassist Jeff and drummer Don, and front-liner Glenn Cashman, who doubles on tenor sax and flute (and produces a lovely sound on both).
The program consists of ten original compositions, eight by Tokunaga, the others ("Online, "Tally ) by Greenblatt. There are two versions of Tokunaga's leisurely "Sunday Drive (Cashman plays flute on the first, tenor on the other tracks, except for "Kashimier" and "Online, on which he takes a breather). Tempos are generally slow to moderate, with only the boppish "Enough of Your Childishness breaking the mold to become a lively canter. The aptly named "Kashimier, on which Don Middleton plays bongos, mirrors the exotic spirit and moods of a Middle Eastern bazaar.
This laid-back concert isn't going to knock anyone's socks off, but it wasn't meant to. It is musically solid, quite well played, brightly recorded and generously timed. As for Tokunaga, he remains the stellar soloist that Down Beat saluted more than ten years ago.
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Track Listing: Heavy Sushi; Sunday Drive (Take I); Octagon Chamber; Online; From Paradise to Utopia; Enough of Your Childishness; Tally; Sunday Drive (Take II); Kashimier; Mama Chan (70:56).
Personnel: Hideaki Tokunaga: guitar; Glenn Cashman: tenor saxophone, flute; Richard Greenblatt: vibraphone; Jeff Littleton: bass; Don Littleton: drums.
Record Label: Music Sweethearts