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First Look is a modern masterpiece that can hold your attention and reveal different layers of commitment with each hearing. The resolve of Tatsu Aoki (bass and percussion) and Roscoe Mitchell (reeds, flute and percussion) goes beyond merely making music to meditative celebration of every moment in life.
Starting with "In , Mitchell plays gong and Aoki plays one double stop on the bass. As Aoki moves to a groove and Mitchell expands his palette we are reminded of how important percussion was to the Art Ensemble's concerts. After five minutes, Mitchell switches to flute while Aoki continues with the groove until Mitchell again returns to percussion, he and Aoki in total agreement as to where to end the piece; a lesson in committed, sensitive improvisation. "The Journey starts with Aoki playing a drum rhythm sounding like the announcement of the beginning of a ceremony. After Aoki switches to bass and begins an ostinato Mitchell picks up his alto and develops a furious, cathartic storm of notes. Where a younger man might have given up or abandoned the strong idea, as Aoki moves back to the opening spacious drum-beat, Mitchell digs deeper and we marvel at his strength and resolution. "The Journey is followed by the amazing "Glide . Its point of concentration is Mitchell's circular breathing flowing in sonic sympathy with Aoki's arco bass, which is also rich in texture and dedicated to true duo synthesis.
Ancient Pines may be different in approach at times, in that there are more composed lines, but the quality of music is just as excellent. "Rise & Fall is a beautiful ballad that displays both Tim O'Dell's wonderful tone on soprano sax and Aoki's big, fat bass notes. As with First Look, this CD is an example of unhurried duo musical communication. The CD's title comes from "The Ancient Pines Suite , a composition that O'Dell wrote for the beautiful trees from a Maine upbringing. The Suite also features the rarely heard bass trumpet, played by Ryan Shultz. The first section of the suite, "Fanfare/Squirrels , is a moderately quick post-bop head with good soloing by the horns and swinging bass lines. The second section, "Old Growth , is stunningly beautiful, once again displaying Aoki's resolute musical statements. Why is Aoki not a bigger name on the bass? In jazz? In modern improvised music?
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: In; East Side Easy; Number Five Wings Place; The Journey; Glide; Dot; Journey For the Cause; Yoshihashi; Out.
Personnel: Tatsu Aoki, bass and percussion; Roscoe Mitchell, reeds and flute and percussion.
Tracks: Textual; The Drive; Toddler; Anticipation; Rise & Fall; Ancient Pines Suite (tracks6-8) Fanfare/Squirrels; Old Growth; Majestic Perspectives; Come Here; Opinions; You Can't Find Me; Apheilon; Sneaky.
Personnel: Tim O'Dell, alto and soprano saxophones; Tatsu Aoki, bass; Ryan Shultz, bass trumpet on "Ancient Pines Suite (tracks 6-8).