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Nobuki Takamen: Live at the Iridium

Glenn Astarita By
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Track review of "14-1"

Nobuki Takamen: Live at the Iridium Born in Hiroshima, Japan, guitarist Nobuki Takamen resides in New York City where he remains active in the local jazz scene amid gigs at major out-of-state festivals. Recorded at New York City's Iridium jazz venue, the guitarist steers his quartet through a progression of lyrically resplendent bop and swing works, complemented by interweaving plots and brief nods to non-jazz genres.

Takamen's medium-toned lines, via his semi-hollow body guitar, parallel what is often heard in standard jazz guitar quartets. His penchant for bop is highlighted on "14-1," which is accented by peppery swing vamps, and toggled by an alternating Latin-jazz groove. The quartet injects a touch of funk-rock into the schema, but it's the leader's articulate phrasings and attention-grabbing improvisations that tell the story here.

Pianist Hitoshi Kanda comps and contrasts Takamen, punctuated by the rhythm section's frothy flows. Otherwise, the guitarist's complex chord clusters, spirited intonations, tricky maneuvers and melodic overtones offer a comprehensive picture of his fluency as a consummate jazz musician. Moving forward, Kanda stretches out and reels-in the primary theme towards the finale. With his third solo release, Takamen takes a mountainous leap onto the jazz radar.

Personnel: Nobuki Takamen: guitar, pen; Hitoshi Kanda: piano; John Lenis: bass; Yutaka Uchida: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Summit Records


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