Aki Takase: A Week Went By

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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Aki Takase

A Week Went By

Psi Records


This is audacious music. In the emerging drama, pianist Aki Takase plays just a ripple away from bassist John Edwards, who is, in turn, a ripple away from percussionist Tony Levin. Each relates to the other through the glacial topography of something such as kryptonite. Thus the whole idea of the trio is turned inside out as new musical structures emerge from the prodding of the piano, which rubs against the bass—sometimes like a cricket—and the percussion, which is thunderstruck with mallets, lithe and sprightly with brushes, or deeply and sonorously pulsing with stick rolling on taut skins.

Takase plays with diaphanous flair. Her pianism rolls and thunders on an ocean of tone and color. Chords are the kelp, whose clusters flutter and unfurl as the music darts onward and upward, pirouettes and then falls with a myriad of overtones around the principal path of the song's melody. But then she roars and thunders as the song demands of her a swaggering shuffle that eggs on its interior rhythm. Or she may whisper puckishly as her piano flagrantly flirts with bass and drums.

Takase binds the trio as it builds on the sub-structure that she creates. The poetics of her music determine that it swings and surprises as it melds with the poetry of empirical science. How long will this tantalising "Surface Tension" last if the elastic of its melody is pulled apart by rhythm and agonizing harmony? Takase and her colleagues dance around the pulse of the metre as time stands still in the very dynamism of its upward motion. The bass cuts, arco con brio, past from present, and splices future in a continuum with single notes on perfectly struck strings. Dampers are opened and closed heartlessly. Pedals sustain notes, arpeggios create vertical shafts of sound, and the mathematics of time meld once again into the poetics of pure curved air as "A Week Went By." "Cell Culture" is a dark probing piece with a black velvet feel. In "Men Are Shadows," the trio eclipses the individual constituents to keep the noir aspect of the piece as mysterious as it possibly can until the end.

There is a dry heat that smokes and simmers under "Just Drop In" as the song smoulders with references to pianist Thelonious Monk, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie Parker. The angular attack is only surpassed by the dry resonating growl of John Tchicai's alto saxophone. On her own, though—that is when she presses on with "57577," "Ima Wa Mukashi" and "Yumetamago"—Takase peels away a layer of skin to reveal a pianist who is at once forthright and funny as well as highly emotional. Her approach to the instrument may still be the same—percussive and sharp as she explores its geography. Strings are wont to be hammered and struck by felted heads as with other objects that bounce around the strings, when they are plucked and beaten as in "Yumetamago." On "57577" Takase shows a devastating two handed technique with dazzling runs and electrifying arpeggios. She makes the science fiction of the piano becomes a stark reality on this wondrous album.

Tracks: Surface Tension; A Week Went By; Steinblock; Just Drop In; 57577; Ima wa Mukashi; Cell Culture; Men are Shadows; Yumetamago.

Personnel: Aki Takase: piano; John Edwards: double bass (1-3, 7, 8); Tony Levin: drums (1-3, 7, 8); John Tchicai: alto saxophone (4).

Year Released: 2010 | Style: Modern Jazz

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