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Shu Odamura: Cloud Illusions

Mark Sullivan By

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Guitarist/composer Shu Odamura was born in Kyoto, Japan; graduated from the Berklee College of Music; and now lives in New York. He plays this all original set on nylon string guitar (despite the photo with electric guitar in the album liners) in a trio with bassist Yoshiki Yamada and drummer Yutaka Uchida. "Rain" opens the set with an upbeat feel and a memorable melody. It has a contemporary jazz sound, which doesn't stop Odamura and Yamada from trading fours (then twos) in bebop style—then drummer Uchida gets a turn.

Odamura has a definite affinity with Latin forms. "Viko" is a tango, while "Primera Vez" and "Say Hello To Oscar" are both sambas. The rhythm section gives each one a distinctive feel, too: there's nothing generic about the writing or the playing."Dear Boston" is the ballad of the set, showcasing guitar and double bass in duet (Yamada also plays electric bass on several tracks).

"Blue Space" starts out rubato, then settles into the blues feel promised by the title: a nice earthy contrast with the modern jazz sound of the rest of the program. There's a lovely waltz also ("Onsen Waltz") for which Uchida brings out the brushes. "Beyond The Clouds" recalls Ralph Towner with its finger-picked introduction (as had the opening tune). "Believe" closes the set on a gentle, hopeful note.

Shu Odamura makes an impressive debut with Cloud Illusions. He's not a flashy player, but possesses solid technique and a distinctive classical guitar sound; he's a fine composer; and he's got a hot, sympathetic rhythm section. Looking forward to hearing more from him.

Track Listing: Rain; Viko; Primera Vez; Dear Boston; Blue Space; Onsen Waltz; Say Hello To Oscar; Flowing Colors; Beyond The Clouds; Believe.

Personnel: Shu Odamura: guitar; Yoshiki Yamada: electric bass, double bass; Yutaka Uchida: drums.

Title: Cloud Illusions | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: What's New Records

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