Gato Libre: DuDu

Hrayr Attarian By

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Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura's quartet Gato Libre has always recorded stimulating, progressive music heavily laced with a Spanish lyricism. DuDu is no exception. "Mouse" is the prime example of this. On it the musicians push far the harmonic boundaries of their respective instruments creating delightfully jarring cacophony intertwined with intensely melodic explorations.

Despite the personnel change after bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu's untimely death, the group remains remarkable cohesive. The new recruit, trombonist Yasuko Kaneko brings a warm fluidity to the bottom register that enhances the overall dramatic ambience. "Gato" for instance opens with Kaneko's intriguing, growling poetic solo. Guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura serenades Kaneko's lilting improvisation while Tamura engages the trombone player in a haunting duet that ushers in the tune's concluding head.

Kaneko adds a solemn touch with her refrains to the melancholic and classically influenced "Cirencester." The piece showcases Tsumura's baroque-ish, intricate spontaneous phrases and pianist Satoko Fujii's wistful accordion lines that flow in hypnotic cascades in and out of the spotlight.

Fujii, as always when she is with Gato Libre, sticks to the accordion and her dissonant and thrilling extemporization forms the core of, perhaps the most provocative and captivating track the cinematic "Nanook." Tamura coaxes an eerily human wail out his horn as he weaves an abstract sonic narrative that his band mates punctuate with brief, evocative tones. His unfettered adlib dialogue, or rather two simultaneous monologues, with Kaneko concludes the composition on a breathtakingly creative high.

There are, as well, moments of quiet beauty that highlight the seamless camaraderie among the members of the group. "Scramble," for example, features the various instruments climbing up and down the scales in mystical and hypnotic darkly hued motifs that glide around each other in a serpentine sensual dance brimming with a tangoesque passion.

DuDu follows the winning formula of its predecessors but, as with the other discs, eschews the formulaic. The result is another sublimely satisfying, elegant record that brims with raw excitement and a reflective nostalgia.

Track Listing: DuDu; Gato; Nanook; Rainy Day; Scramble; Mouse; Cirencester; B&B.

Personnel: Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Yasuko Kaneko: trombone; Kazuhiko Tsumura: guitar; Satoko Fujii: accordion.

Title: DuDu | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Libra Records

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