All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Hideaki "Heday" Tokunaga Quintet: Live at Plaza de la Raza

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
A little more than a decade ago, when guitarist Hideaki Tokunaga was a student at Cal Arts in Valencia, California, he was named Down Beat magazine's Outstanding Jazz Soloist among collegiate musicians. Based on evidence submitted in this likable session, recorded live in June '02 at the Plaza de la Raza in Los Angeles, that was an excellent choice. Tokunaga plays almost classically, with an enviable clarity of line and tone that underlines a keen grasp of jazz convention. He also has superb taste in sidemen, surrounding himself with a quartet of able craftsmen who are not only highly compatible but consistently persuasive.

The music they produce has an almost ethereal quality at times, but that doesn't in any way subvert its effortlessly swinging core. At its heart are Tokunaga and vibraphonist Richard Greenblatt, whose gentle melodicism sets the compass for the Littletons, bassist Jeff and drummer Don, and front-liner Glenn Cashman, who doubles on tenor sax and flute (and produces a lovely sound on both).

The program consists of ten original compositions, eight by Tokunaga, the others ("Online, "Tally ) by Greenblatt. There are two versions of Tokunaga's leisurely "Sunday Drive (Cashman plays flute on the first, tenor on the other tracks, except for "Kashimier" and "Online, on which he takes a breather). Tempos are generally slow to moderate, with only the boppish "Enough of Your Childishness breaking the mold to become a lively canter. The aptly named "Kashimier, on which Don Middleton plays bongos, mirrors the exotic spirit and moods of a Middle Eastern bazaar.

This laid-back concert isn't going to knock anyone's socks off, but it wasn't meant to. It is musically solid, quite well played, brightly recorded and generously timed. As for Tokunaga, he remains the stellar soloist that Down Beat saluted more than ten years ago.

Visit Hideaki Tokunaga on the web.

Track Listing: Heavy Sushi; Sunday Drive (Take I); Octagon Chamber; Online; From Paradise to Utopia; Enough of Your Childishness; Tally; Sunday Drive (Take II); Kashimier; Mama Chan (70:56).

Personnel: Hideaki Tokunaga: guitar; Glenn Cashman: tenor saxophone, flute; Richard Greenblatt: vibraphone; Jeff Littleton: bass; Don Littleton: drums.

Title: Live at Plaza de la Raza | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Music Sweethearts


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Tangofied III" CD/LP/Track Review Tangofied III
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "Walkin' On Air" CD/LP/Track Review Walkin' On Air
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 21, 2017
Read "Roscanna" CD/LP/Track Review Roscanna
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 1, 2018
Read "Art in the Age of Automation" CD/LP/Track Review Art in the Age of Automation
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Return of Robert Dickson" CD/LP/Track Review Return of Robert Dickson
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 30, 2017
Read "Green Moss Black Sand" CD/LP/Track Review Green Moss Black Sand
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 30, 2017