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Radar: Easy Listening

Mark Corroto By

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The tempo you might expect from new music made in Japan is certainly not what you get from the trio known as Radar. In fact, their fresh approach to music making transcends geography and genre.

The trio of horn (mostly soprano saxophone), bass, and piano plays hesitating tunes, paced by experimentation and plenty of space. The disc opens with the band creeping along, feeling out long notes, and warming the expansions of "BGM1." Just about every track in the "BGM" series (improvised compositions?) is a darkened passage of search and reflection.

The closest reference to the familiar playing here is William Parker. Bassist Inada Makoto's playing is addressed up front in the mix, with his powerful vibe evident throughout. Whether plucking or bowing notes, Makoto—like Parker—exhibits force throughout. His sawing bow on "My String (Radar Version)" gels an ambient grit for his bandmates to drop notes like rain drops on the hypnotic track.

The bassist is also a vocalist, sounding like a Japanese Tom Waits with megaphone or Japanese-scatting through "Aitai No De-Su-Ga." What to make of it? The simple song "Obieru (Frightened)," too. Is it theater? A drinking song? A child's song?

The monk chants on "Cardinal Number" might be from some Kodo drummers' free jazz get-together. But could that be? Sure, why not. Radar plays with music on this Tzadik release, like London improvisers do on Emanem discs or Amsterdam musicians do at the Bim Haus. The cultural divide we cross is made possible through this very creative act.


Track Listing: BGM1; Sound Check; Cardinal Number; BGM4; Paul (Song Of Gumtape); My String (Radar Version); BGM3; Obieru (Frightened); BGM2; Aitai No De-Su-Ga; Melody 1; Namida.

Personnel: Inada Makoto - Contrabass, Vocal; Katori Koichiro - Piano, Accordion, Low Voice Chorus; Mizutani Yasuhisa - Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Percussion, Chorus.

Title: Easy Listening | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Tzadik


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