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Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up: After All is Said

Troy Collins By

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Tomas Fujiwara is one of the busiest drummers in New York City, with memberships in cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum's Sextet, baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton's Ideal Bread and the cooperative trio Thumbscrew, featuring acclaimed guitarist Mary Halvorson and veteran bassist Michael Formanek, among other projects. Formed in 2008, Fujiwara's flagship ensemble, The Hook Up, is one of the Downtown scene's most consistently creative and engaging acts.

After All is Said is the band's third recording for 482 Music, following The Air is Different, from 2012, and its 2010 debut, Actionspeak. Although the group's basic lineup has been fairly stable, Formanek assumes bass duties previously fulfilled by Trevor Dunn and Danton Boller, joining Fujiwara and charter members Brian Settles (tenor saxophone), Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet) and Halvorson. In addition to Formanek's recruitment, the group's instrumental palette has been slightly expanded; Settles plays flute for the first time on a Hook Up session, introducing the cinematic opener, "Lastly," with evocative Asiatic flourishes, complemented by Halvorson's spidery fretwork and Finlayson's clarion valedictions.

Fujiwara's non-linear compositions typically eschew conventional song structures, as exemplified by "The Comb." Interrupting a bold pointillist dialogue between tenor, guitar and drums with a somber interlude for doleful trumpet and bowed bass, the rubato piece gradually transforms into a quixotic collage of briskly articulated phrases and languid refrains, set in multiple time signatures. "Boaster's Roast" similarly juxtaposes the muscular rhythm section's rock-infused backbeats and Halvorson's spiky leads against edgy horn-driven funk, while "For Tom and Gerald" encapsulates the leader's tasteful artistry with a subdued but compelling unaccompanied drum solo devoid of pyrotechnics.

Formanek's imposing presence elevates the proceedings considerably; his majestically assured pizzicato solo is the climactic highpoint of "Solar Wind," following a riveting opening duet between Fujiwara and Settles and an extended passage of dazzling rhythmic invention from Finlayson. The swinging title track demonstrates the band members' traditional jazz chops in a concise string of virtuosic solos, culminating in a surprisingly conventional series of energetically traded fours. The soulful ballad "When" is more closely aligned with the aesthetics of rock, authoritatively conveyed by Halvorson's phantasmagoric six-string ministrations and Finlayson's stately soliloquy, which bring to a close one of the most accessible, challenging and inventive recordings of recent vintage.

Track Listing: Lastly; The Comb; For Tom and Gerald; Boaster's Roast; Solar Wind; The Hook Up; When.

Personnel: Mary Halvorson: guitar; Michael Formanek: bass; Brian Settles: tenor saxophone & flute; Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet; Tomas Fujiwara: drums.

Title: After All Is Said | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: 482 Music


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