Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Tomoko Omura: Branches Vol. 1

6

Tomoko Omura: Branches Vol. 1

By

Sign in to view read count
Tomoko Omura: Branches Vol. 1
If, as you start to yield willingly to the sumptuous, hypnotic Branches, Vol. 1, you should need to walk away and attend to other home/bunker business, try to keep at least one ear on the music. From any point in any room you might hear a gypsy laugh, a lover cry, a Celtic reel. A marvelous new touch on a centuries old instrument, bringing the ages together, gathering all the ley lines into one bustling hub.

A rising star in Downbeat's Critic's Pole since 2015, the magazine also, in its review of Roots (Inner Circle Music, 2015) cited violinist Tomoko Omura as "a leader with a fine future." Well, such as it is and like it or not, the future is here and Omura is damn well in control of it. Branches, Vol. 1 is one of those great recordings that's listened to not only for the joy and satisfaction of the music emanating from your audio source of choice but also for the study and discussion of same music.

Start with the starter, a broadly whimsical, propulsive abstract rendering of the ever languid "Moonlight In Vermont." Who knew, or even suspected, this Tin Pan Alley warhorse could sound so new, so apart from all the other versions before it? Omura posits the song as an insistent, cinematic reveal: her reverberating pizzicato setting the stage for Jeff Miles embroidering guitar squalls, pianist Glenn Zaleski's lyrical effervescence. The time-released kinetics of bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Jay Sawyer hold the dream like state together.

Be it her emphatic virtuosity or her compositional strengths, Omura, whose haiku like clarity on her five string viola made her the first ever violinist to win Berklee's prestigious Roy Haynes Award in 2005, keeps Branches, Vol. 1 vital and full of unexpected movement. Born from Japanese folklore, Omura injects new improvisatory colors and notions at will. She trades licks with Zaleski as "Return to the Moon" builds from contemplation to mounting rock opus. Leading the charge with three distinctly diverse solos, "Revenge of the Rabbit" never lets up. Nor does Branches, Vol. 1. Hands down one of this year's most exciting recordings to date.

Track Listing

Moonlight In Vermont; Three Magic Charms; The Revenge Of The Rabbit; Return To The Moon - Intro; Return To The Moon; Konomichi.

Personnel

Jeff Miles
guitar
Pablo Menares
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: Branches Vol. 1 | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Outside in Music

Comments


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Being Human
Lynne Arriale
Big Band Stories
Fredrik Nordström
Skyllumina
Ruth Goller

Popular

Compassion
Vijay Iyer
Jazz Hands
Bob James
Esengo
London Afrobeat Collective

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.