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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura, Alexander Frangenheim: Nax

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Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura has long straddled the divide between free improvisation and lyrical jazz. The latter has been adequately and beautifully represented in his work with Gato Libre. That quartet features his wife and occasional duo partner--the pianist and accordionist Satoko Fujii--and combines elements of folk, chamber and modern jazz. In contrast, much of his solo work such as A Song for Jyaki (Leo Records, 1998) is full of distorted multi-phonic explorations. Nax, a duo outing with German bassist Alexander Frangenheim, goes much further outside the parameters of jazz or music in general. An artist in multiple disciplines, Frangenheim bridges ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gato Libre: DuDu

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Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura's quartet Gato Libre has always recorded stimulating, progressive music heavily laced with a Spanish lyricism. DuDu is no exception. “Mouse" is the prime example of this. On it the musicians push far the harmonic boundaries of their respective instruments creating delightfully jarring cacophony intertwined with intensely melodic explorations.Despite the personnel change after bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu's untimely death, the group remains remarkable cohesive. The new recruit, trombonist Yasuko Kaneko brings a warm fluidity to the bottom register that enhances the overall dramatic ambience. “Gato" for instance opens with Kaneko's intriguing, growling poetic solo. Guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gato Libre: DuDu

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The fifth album by Gato Libre, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura's acoustic quartet, is the first since the sudden death of bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu in 2011. Having thought long and hard about whether to continue, Tamura recruited trombonist Yasuko Kaneko as a replacement. While the European folk music inspiration of previous outings like Shiro (Libra Records, 2009) and Forever (Libra Records, 2012) remains intact, the change has engendered more the feel of a chamber outfit, albeit one at times crossed with a brass band. There can be few other units which combine such an unlikely array of instruments in pursuit of such ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gato Libre: DuDu

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There are a lot of high energy, wild and out there sounds screaming around in Natsuki Tamura's discography--the explosively electric Hada Hada (Libra Records, 2002), the sizzling Exit (Libra Records, 2004), and any number of unfettered collaborations with his wife, pianist Satoko Fujii. But his Gato Libre discs are one of the Japanese trumpeter's more laid-back methods of expression. An acoustic quartet that explores European folk themes in a tranquil and occasionally off-center way, the five previous sets by the group are some of Tamura's most approachable and prettiest music. Bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu--an an integral part of Gato ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Natsuki Tamura: Dragon Nat

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The instrumentalist begins his career as, essentially, a solo artist. Whether is practicing long tones or scales or drum rudiments, nearly everyone who plays a musical instrument starts out unaccompanied. On the road to mastery, most musicians spend thousands of hours playing alone. In jazz, solo recordings by musicians other than pianists or guitarists are a relatively recent phenomenon, and the prospect of listening to a horn or drum soloist playing unaccompanied for an hour or more may seem daunting, both the the player and to the audience. To the listener, a solo performance may seem dry or arcane; after ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura and Satoko Fujii: Muku

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It's surprising that trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii--partners in music and life--have only recorded five duet CDs during the course of their incredibly prolific and artistically fecund collaboration. As Fujii wryly explains in her liner notes, each of their duet recordings is different--some are entirely freely improvised, others consist solely of compositions written by either Fujii or Tamura. The location--an important metric in the Fujii/Tamura universe--of each duet recording has also been different. Recorded in New York City, Muku consists of nine steely Tamura compositions played with incredible depth and sensitivity by these master musicians. Tamura's writing is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Natsuki Tamura/Satoko Fujii: Muku

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The restlessly innovative husband and wife team of trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii have produced some of the most intriguing and invigorating music to come out of Japan. Although rooted in the jazz idiom, their explorations are on universal themes, drawing upon a variety of inspirations. Their work is primarily improvised, but not in the sense of a blowing session and more within the permissive construct of melodic and unconventional compositions. More often than not, it is Fujii who pens the pieces on their albums, but on Muku--meaning “purity"-- it is Tamura who assumes the ...



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