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The mother of invention left these three ambitiously minded modern jazz stalwarts to pursue matters within a multidirectional discourse. On Fragment, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura entangles an organic sound with trickery and creativity, without any noticeable use of electronics. Besides the growls, squeaks and multiphonics, Tamura abets pianist Satoko Fujii's newly fashioned "com-improv" concept: composed improvisation. And with percussionist John Hollenbeck injecting radiance, timbre and crunching backbeats, the trio revels within semi-structural components.
As a trumpeter, Tamura can sometimes sound like he's plugged in because of his oscillating notes and mechanized soundscapes. And with these pieces, the band engages in playful cat-and-mouse interplay, coupled with linear phrasing and reverse engineering. They're also apt to shift strategies on a micro-second's notice.
Hollenbeck, praised for his solo outings and all-encompassing musicality, demonstrates superior timing and stick control here. In spots, he shades his bandmates' evocative choruses with triple-stroke cymbal swashes, also boosting the pliant flows with polyrhythmic outbreaks. The trio also executes riveting stop/start motifs where Fujii's cascading crescendos often signal in a primary theme to be used as a foundation for group-based improvisation.
On "At Intersection, On A Rainy Day, Tamura dishes out a sequence of eerie effects using complex breathing techniques atop Hollenbeck's softly enacted cymbal work. The musicians create gobs of movement with ascending passages and multihued pastiches of sound. Invention accelerates at full-throttle speed on Fragment when the trio combines intellectual permissiveness with a loose-groove gait. Required listening.
Track Listing: A Dream In The Dawn; Ants Are Crossing The Highway; Getting Lost On A Snowy Day; At Intersection, On A Rainy Day; Looking Out Of The Window; Your Neighbors; Wok Cooking; Tin Can Godzilla; Cat's Nap; Lullaby.
Personnel: Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Satoko Fujii: piano; John Hollenbeck: percussion.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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