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Album Review

Akira Sakata / Johan Berthling / Paal Nilssen-Love: Arashi


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Akira Sakata / Johan Berthling / Paal Nilssen-Love: Arashi
This is a trio of like-minded, fearless musicians who like their music hot, steamy and climatic and would not settle for less than that. The Scandinavian rhythm section of prolific Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, member of the power trio The Thing and Swedish double bassist Johan Berthling, member of the like-minded trio Fire! (both feature Swedish sax titan Mats Gustafsson), collaborated before in the trio of Swedish pianist Sten Sandell.

Now these two Vikings team for a new trio with Japanese samurai sax player Akira Sakata, one of influential figures of the Japanese free jazz scene since the seventies, a close collaborator of another sax titan Peter Brötzmann and guitarist and sound sculptor Jim O'Rourke, who collaborated live before with The Thing and recorded with Nilssen- Love (The Cliff of Time, PNL, 2014).

The trio debut album was recorded in Stockholm on July 2013. Its energetic spirit was captured beautifully by saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar, who mixed and mastered the album. It begins with a climatic storm, literally, as the title piece means storm in Japanese. A muscular, fast and highly intense onslaught of all three with no second to hesitate or rest, always on the verge of losing control over this explosive sonic eruption, with Nilssen-Love in top form charging this uncompromising typhoon with dense, polyrhythmic pulse. But this trio is more versatile as the three demonstrate on the following "Ondo No Huna-Uta (Rower' Song of Ondo}." Sakata recites this song in a hoarse voice and possessed manner, it alternates between deep, melancholic pathos and a comic side, mumbling stream-of-thought gibberish, both sound as an organic extension of the other, while Berthling and Nilssen-Love embrace his manic performances in irreverent, ceremonial rhythms.

"Dora" offers another side of this trio, a fiery free jazz attack rooted in the rich legacy of this genre. Sakata leads with a charismatic solo, developing the theme with an impressive command and focused articulation, enjoying the high-octane rhythm section that keeps pushing his sax flights to higher and higher sonic terrains. The trio conclude with a touching elegy to the Japanese town Fukushima that suffered a nuclear disaster in 2011. Sakata leads again with a warm and soulful clarinet solo. Berthling and Nilssen-Love patiently intensify the contemplative spirit of this piece with spare, imaginative playing until the three unite again for a stormy, ceremonial coda with Sakata chanting a farewell.

This trio plans a Japanese tour this fall, hopefully, will yield more releases by these brilliant and powerful musicians.

Track Listing

Arashi (Storm); Ondo No Huna​-​Uta (Rower's Song of Ondo); Dora; Fukushima No Ima (Fukushima Now).


Akira Sakata: alto saxophone, clarinet, voice; Johan Bertling: double bass; Paal-Nilssen-Love: drums, percussion.

Album information

Title: Arashi | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Trost Records

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