1

Katsura Yamauchi Duets

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Japanese saxophonist Katsura Yamaychi is a unique musician in the Japanese experimental and avant-garde scene. He comes from the industrial town Beppu, far from the traditional creative center around and in the bigger cities of Japan. He picked up the saxophone in the early seventies, but it took until 2012 for Yamaychi to quit his regular job and dedicate himself fully to music.

Yamauchi has developed a highly original approach to his instrument, the alto saxophone. His playing investigates the instrument's nuanced sonic properties as a vehicle for transforming and mutating breaths and spare blows. His improvisations are often minimalist, but stress a melodic, emotional core and are easily accessible, all introducing a new way to experience music as pure, abstract sound.

Yamauchi has, in recent years, recorded with like-minded Japanese sound sculptors, including guitarist Otomo Yoshihide, percussionists Seijiro Maurayama and Tatsuya Nakatani, as well as intentional free improvisers as saxophonists Sharif Sehnaoui and Michel Doneda, and percussionist Michel Doneda.



Katsura Yamauchi / Toshimaru Nakamura

Yokutojin

Ftarri

2012

This recording was done in Yamauchi's hometown. It is a duet with Toshimaru Nakamura, a fellow pioneer of the Japanese Onkyo scene—a movement of musicians who have developed a new minimalist improvised approach to music, based on silence and tiny gestures. Nakamura's instrument or sound source, the no-input mixing board, is a sound board wired so it feeds back into its own input slot, producing a spectrum of white noises, feedback storms, high-pitched tones and other miscellaneous sounds that Nakamura loops and sculpts. The artwork was done by another member of the Onkyo movement, guitarist Taku Sigimoto.

The music is intense, despite its minimalist spirit. Nakamura manages to trigger sounds that challenge Yamauchi's saxophone flights, and occasionally force him to change the course of the improvisation or adapt his level of energy to the attack of noisy storms. There are a few moments where this meeting abandons the typical minimalist aesthetics and becomes, for a few seconds, an explosive, nervous free improvisation, before the dense noise dissolves, once again, into a changing, nuanced series of close-to-silence sonic gestures and explorations that maintain the tension of this shared sound sculpting. As abruptly as it began, it ends with spare, intense interaction.

Katsura Yamauchi / Martin Vognsen

Spanien

Jvtlandt

2013

This is another duet, this time with Danish guitarist, sound collage explorer and designer of sonic installments Martin Vognsen, who created the series of recordings State Changes According To A Wind (Jvtlandt, 2009). The music is, again, minimalist but this time serene, and both Yamauchi and Vognesen focus on exploring the common, distinct characters of their instruments.

The five deeply focused, abstract, almost transparent improvisations emphasize the alto saxophone's sonic properties as a vehicle for manipulating minor, detailed changes within streamed breaths and air. Whether plucked or bowed, the sonic palette of Vognsen's dobro adds tiny, metallic, percussive and often resonating colors, as well as basic drone and ambient sounds.

The highly reserved and almost silent interplay creates enigmatic and surprisingly beautiful melodic soundscapes on the almost cinematic "Two Is Enough," with its precise, feather-light pulsations. "Koma" introduces a soft, resonating sonic canvas, abstracted with bold, abrupt fragments of melodic lines consolidated on the closing "Chatime," this time structured with a fractured East Asian-tinged theme.

Both recordings offer fascinating journeys within delicate forms of sound and time.


Tracks and Personnel

Yokutojin

Tracks: Yokutojin.

Personnel: Katsura Yamauchi: alto saxophone; Toshimaru Nakamura: no-input mixing board.

Spanien

Tracks: Systen One; Two Is Enough; Dolphin; Koma; Chatime.

Personnel: Katsura Yamauchi: alto saxophone; Martin Vognsen: dobro.

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Earth Songs: Music after the Age of the Anthropocene Multiple Reviews
Earth Songs: Music after the Age of the Anthropocene
By Jakob Baekgaard
June 17, 2019
Read Joost Lijbaart: Under The Surface Multiple Reviews
Joost Lijbaart: Under The Surface
By Mark Sullivan
June 13, 2019
Read Three releases on Iluso Records Multiple Reviews
Three releases on Iluso Records
By John Eyles
May 24, 2019
Read 3x3: Piano Trios, vol. V Multiple Reviews
3x3: Piano Trios, vol. V
By Geno Thackara
May 18, 2019
Read Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery: Masters At Work Multiple Reviews
Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery: Masters At Work
By Doug Collette
May 17, 2019
Read The Sounds of Saxophones Multiple Reviews
The Sounds of Saxophones
By Jerome Wilson
April 26, 2019