222

Kenji Omae: Here For Now

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Kenji Omae: Here For Now Tenor saxophonist Kenji Omae is a true man of the world. He was born in Canada, studied jazz at the University of Toronto and did graduate work at Queens College in New York City. Here For Now was recorded in one afternoon in New Jersey just a few days before Omae was to leave for South Korea, where he now performs and teaches, thus its title.

During his time in New York, he freelanced, connecting up with other adventurous mainstream players, including the outstanding sidemen on this recording—pianist George Colligan, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Mark Ferber. That such busy players took the time to record with Omae shows that he is highly regarded.

Omae's music is another example of the optimism and good spirits that seem to emanate from Canada. Long on energy and drive, while possessing a high degree of facility, Omae leads this quartet through an engaging set.

The saxophone is recorded a bit distantly in the mix, giving it a bit of a mysterious quality, almost as if it were floating. However, Omae does not need to be up front, because his rhythmic intensity serves him well. The rhythm section responds to the call, and keep things bubbling, perhaps bit too much from Ferber.

This is a quibble, however, since each track has a distinctive melody, and the album as a whole is paced well. While Omae's music and the arrangements (generally head-solos-recap) will not surprise experienced listeners or pin back any ears, everyone's playing is so spontaneous that a high degree of interest is maintained.

The music is called "adventurous mainstream" because it tries to be more than that which is called "straight-ahead" but without venturing beyond known boundaries. The surprise and hence the interest comes with the individual lines that Omae and Colligan play. Colligan is the perfect sideman in that his knowledge and taste is very broad, which when combined with his taste and incisive touch and taste, brings any set up a notch.

The originality of concept in Omae's music is made clear when the sum of the sounds of the first six tracks is compared to the seventh, "Train Tracks." This last composition is the most straight-ahead and predictable in the set, drawing attention to how different and personal the earlier music really is. In the end, Omae creates his own music universe, allowing us to get to know who he is.

While Omae has now left New York City, perhaps to settle down in Korea, Here For Now is a fine document of a player comfortable with himself and his own personal music.


Track Listing: Time Management; Here For Now; Draft; Across The Pond; Lucid; Kissena; Train Tracks.

Personnel: Kenji Omae: tenor saxophone; George Colligan: piano; Matt Clohesy: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Kang & Music | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Shipwreck 4" CD/LP/Track Review Shipwreck 4
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 13, 2016
Read "Quartet 1991" CD/LP/Track Review Quartet 1991
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 9, 2016
Read "An Eclipse Of Images" CD/LP/Track Review An Eclipse Of Images
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 1, 2016
Read "Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute" CD/LP/Track Review Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 11, 2016
Read "AMa AZa LaNdO" CD/LP/Track Review AMa AZa LaNdO
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 23, 2016
Read "Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau" CD/LP/Track Review Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!