All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

15

Gato Libre: Neko

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Any new release from Gato Libre is a welcome event and sure to be a transcendent musical journey of simple sophistication in an unconventional structure. Neko is all those things but with the added, palpable emotion driven by a sense of loss that the group has endured yet again. Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and life partner, pianist, and accordionist Satoko Fujii have been the mainstays of the groups since its 2005 debut, Strange Village (Muzak Inc). The original quartet included bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu and guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura, both of whom passed away, in 2011 and 2015 respectively. In each case, Tamura questioned continuing the group and thankfully did so.

Trombonist Yasuko Kaneko first appeared on Gato Libre's DuDu (Libra Records, 2014) after playing some live performances with the group. A natural fit from the beginning, he filled the gap left by the absence of Koreyasu's bass. Following the loss of Tsumura, and with urging from Fujii, Tamura made the decision that Gato Libre continue functioning, now as a trio, for Neko.

Tamura wrote each of the album's six pieces and for both the trumpeter and Fujii, the choice of material is most often an alter-ego to the couple's other endeavors—their free improvisational group Kaze (with drummer Peter Orins and trumpeter Christian Pruvost), and their boundary pushing piano/trumpet duo recordings. "Tama" is imbued with the folkloric themes that have been the trademark of much Gato Libre's music. "Momo" sets up and retains a slow, understated melody, the melancholy occasionally lifted by Fujii's accordion (she does not play piano with Gato Libre). "Mii" and "Hime" see Tamura alternating between his most expressive playing and more abstract techniques. One of Gato Libre's most moving pieces is "Yuza," featuring a series of extended solos—first from Tamura, then Fujii and, finally, Kaneko—with all coming together for its solemn conclusion. "Tora" concludes the set with off-kilter lyricism and an underlying sense of sorrow.

The emotional trials that Tamura and Fujii have endured are on full display here, neither glossed over nor sentimentalized. The sad beauty of the album plays out in a cinematic manner, reflective and yet charismatic enough to reflect the old world charm that Fujii's accordion frequently lends to Gato Libre's music. Not surprisingly, Neko translates to "Cat," and one would hope that this group has at least nine more lives to share with us.

Track Listing: Tama; Momo; Mii; Hime; Yuza; Tora.

Personnel: Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Yasuko Kaneko: trombone; Satoko Fujii: accordion.

Title: Neko | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Libra Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Tama

Tama

Gato Libre
Neko

DuDu

DuDu

Gato Libre
DuDu

CD/LP/Track Review
  • Neko by Karl Ackermann
  • DuDu by Alberto Bazzurro
DVD/Film Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Neko

Neko

Libra Records
2017

buy
DuDu

DuDu

Libra Records
2014

buy
Forever

Forever

Libra Records
2012

buy
Shiro

Shiro

Libra Records
2010

buy
 

Kuro

Centro De La Cultura Popular Canaria
2008

buy
Nomad

Nomad

No Man's Land Records
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read Return to the Future CD/LP/Track Review
Return to the Future
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Telepathy CD/LP/Track Review
Telepathy
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 17, 2018
Read The Whole Thing Is Just There CD/LP/Track Review
The Whole Thing Is Just There
by John Bricker
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Haydn: Symphony No. 39, Symphony No. 87, Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante CD/LP/Track Review
Haydn: Symphony No. 39, Symphony No. 87, Mozart –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Rogue Star CD/LP/Track Review
Rogue Star
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Out in the Open CD/LP/Track Review
Out in the Open
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 16, 2018
Read "NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//" CD/LP/Track Review NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "Frames & Terrains" CD/LP/Track Review Frames & Terrains
by John Sharpe
Published: March 25, 2018
Read "Music IS" CD/LP/Track Review Music IS
by John Kelman
Published: March 9, 2018
Read "GRANITE" CD/LP/Track Review GRANITE
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 22, 2018
Read "Yequm" CD/LP/Track Review Yequm
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Klinker" CD/LP/Track Review Klinker
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 6, 2018