438

Blue Notes Orchestra: 30th Anniversary

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Blue Notes Orchestra: 30th Anniversary The Blue Notes Orchestra hails from Hamamatsu and is one of a number of outstanding contemporary Japanese big bands who continue to make it clear beyond any doubt that one doesn't have to be born and bred in the USA to master the fine art of jazz musicianship. Blue Notes is as proficient in every respect as any ensemble I've heard in recent years, and to say it reminds me of Kenichi Tsunoda's marvelous Tokyo-based band is the most earnest endorsement I can offer. My only regret is that thirty years passed before I was able to hear and appreciate the orchestra's consummate artistry.

I received a copy of 30th Anniversary from Hideaki Tokunaga, a superb California-based guitarist who is the guest soloist on Osamu Shiamura's evocative three-movement suite, "The City. Tokunaga is one of two guest artists. The other is trumpeter Tomonao Hara who is out front on four numbers. How good is Hara? Well, I'll say only that he combines the lyricism of Tom Harrell with the technique of Carl Saunders and let you draw your own conclusion. He is sublimely soulful on Lars Jansson's ethereal ballad "Sacred and trades blistering broadsides with a second trumpeter, Shuichi Sawada, on Carla Bley's dynamic "Ictus.

Hara interlaces sharp commentary on Mukai's cheerful "On Reflection and a spirited arrangement of George Gershwin's "Gone Gone Gone from Porgy and Bess. Among the other soloists, tenor saxophonist Hiroyasu Abe is electrifying on "Gone Gone Gone, Jansson's "White Cliff, Wayne Andre's "Nutcracker, and "Time for a Change, which the booklet says was composed and arranged by "Hunk Levy (one of only two slip-ups in an otherwise admirable enterprise). The second lapse takes place in Oliver Nelson's "Swiss Suite, much of which consists of the sort of avant-garde twaddle that may make the musicians happy but gives the listener an earache. On the bright side, the orchestra saves the irksome notes for the last track, which can easily be passed over.

There's one non-Japanese player in the band, trombonist David Keech, and he's a standout on "Gone Gone Gone, "On Reflection and Andre's vigorous workout for the 'bone section, "Nutcracker (with other ardent solos by trombonist Kenji Hirano and pianist Shinya Koseki). Koseki is one of three pianists who embellish a stellar rhythm section powered by drummer Takanori Hinaji and bassist Takahiro Okumura. The names, of course, are unimportant; what matters above all is the music, and in that arena the Blue Notes Orchestra is a championship caliber combatant. A 30th Anniversary blowout that's simply too good to miss.


Track Listing: On Reflection; White Cliff; Gone Gone Gone; Sacred; Nutcracker; The City -- Parts 1, 2, 3; Time for a Change; Ictus; Swiss Suite (68:20).

Personnel: Listed in Japanese.

Title: 30th Anniversary | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Yotsuike Muse Club


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Rotterdam 1969" CD/LP/Track Review Rotterdam 1969
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 11, 2016
Read "El Viaje" CD/LP/Track Review El Viaje
by James Nadal
Published: September 14, 2016
Read "Rough Enough" CD/LP/Track Review Rough Enough
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "Verde" CD/LP/Track Review Verde
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC" CD/LP/Track Review Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC
by James Nadal
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Trickster" CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 11, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.