Saxophonist Yuichiro Tokuda has been a fixture on the Tokyo jazz scene for more than a decade. However, he is unknown in the U.S.A. With his quintet, called RALYZZDIG, he has toured throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North America. Tokuda has been a finalist or winner of several global jazz competitions, and was the subject of a feature on BBC Radio in 2011. He returns with a revised line-up on God Dwells In Everything.
Tokuda studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston before returning to his native Japan and forming his group in 2007. Like many Japanese jazz artists, he is heavily influenced by iconic American artists; in his case, the music of John Coltrane and Paul Desmond informed his approach to the alto. Describing his style on God Dwells In Everything is something of a puzzle. At times he plays with the fiery spirituality of a young Pharoah Sanders; at other times, he seems to emulate the glossy cross-over style of an artist like David Sanborn. Despite the across-the-board tactic, the music goes down naturally.
If God Dwells In Everything sounds like an overtly religious concept, the music doesn't reflect anything quite that dogmatic. The album consists of two compositions, the title track clocking in at close to one hour. "Initial Impulse" opens the album with guitarist Naoto Suzuki and drummer Yuto Maseki establishing a rock rhythm. Suzuki further emphasizes the rock component in tandem with Tokuda's gutsy blowing. The title track begins as evocative soul-jazz, Tokuda sharing leads with pianist Shunichi Yanagi for the first movement of what the composer describes as a suite. Suzuki enters and steers the music in a jazz/rock fusion direction until the sax and piano reclaim the original theme. Maseki's extended solo is electrifying, and Yanagi is later featured in a driving piano solo. For its conclusion, the piece eventually comes back to an aggressive fusion.
Yanagi, Hosoya, and Maseki were not Tokuda's original RALYZZDIG group members, but all offer tight performances and thoughtful collaboration. Even with Yanagi's solo time, the group revolves around the two original members, Tokuda and Suzuki. God Dwells In Everything is an impressive addition to the jazz-fusion category and demonstrates some notable improvising in a largely controlled environment.
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