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Natsuki Tamura's lyrical and subdued Gato Libre group wanders like a nomad through various parts of the world, capturing the essence of folk music and interpreting it through a jazz frame of reference. It's beautiful, acoustic music, and it's evidence of the trumpeter's creative power.
This is impressionism at its best. We can follow the quartet as it delivers a folk dance that rehearses its steps slowly, builds to a rapid and sweaty pace that almost reaches havoc through the excitement of dancing, and then closes with a somber reminder of the culture behind the music. Tamura's impressions aren't obvious, however. They leave much to the creative imagination of the listener.
Accordion, acoustic guitar and acoustic bass make perfect companions for a program of folk music interpreted by creative people. Each lovely melody receives substantial improvisation from Gato Libre, an organization designed to speak of freedom. There are few things as pleasurable to a musician as weaving improvised melodies throughout a lazy afternoon with the freedom to explore them casually. Naturally, this concert gives his audience a reflection similar to that of the artists.
Tamura has thought of all the expected stereotypes. We, of a television generation, cannot help that. Incorporated into his impressions are majestic Spanish elements of Barcelona and Madrid, a lively mad dance in Glasgow, a gentle blues in Paris, gypsy high-stepping in Budapest, ice skating during Lausanne's brisk January, and a holy prayer for October's Venice.
Each selection comes with soul. Tamura's trumpet soars with quiet melodies that rise above his accompaniment with majesty and poise. As he slides fluidly from the upper register down and back with ease, he leaves a graceful impression. Gato Libre's session is not only easy on the ears and the mind, it's a refreshing trip that challenges the intellect and asks for repeated listening.
Track Listing: In Krakow, In November; In Glasgow, In May; In Paris, In February; In Barcelona, In June; In Madrid, In August; In Berlin, In September; In Budapest, In April; In Lausanne, In January; In Gent, In December; In Venice, In October.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.