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Double bassist Tatsu Aoki leads this avant-garde ensemble in a program of creative improvised music that reflects the roots of Asian/American jazz. The instrumental timbres that he's chosen to augment this saxophone and percussion ensemble provide distinctive colors. Aoki's big, booming bass leads the way while huge taiko drums manage the session's rhythmic foundation.
The use of violin and shinobue (a Japanese flute) reaches back into tradition to instill a unique flavor. Thus, modern jazz receives an influx here from Asian culture, tying them together naturally. Aoki's bass ensures that the session remains in focus; however, he's granted the band considerable freedom on re: Rooted. The Miyumi Project's Rooted: Origins of Now (Southport, 2002) revealed Aoki's views on the evolving Asian/American experience. This time out, the band revels in the freedom that can be had through modern jazz.
Based in Chicago, Aoki was born in Tokyo into a family subsumed under an extended cultural troupe of percussionists, shamisen players and dancers. His first instrument was the taiko drum. With The Miyumi Project, he's retained tradition while enjoying the freedom allowed in modern jazz.
Aoki's eloquent double bass soliloquy on "Lacquer best describes the manner with which he wishes to communicate. His heartfelt message hits home. Under Aoki's direction, the band follows with a release that delves into the personality of Chicago's improvised music scene. As the two traditions meet, we're the recipients of this accessible and interesting performance.
Track Listing: Episode One; Episode Two; Episode Three; Shadow to Shadow and Beyond; Lacquer; Gate.
Personnel: Tatsu Aoki: double bass, shamisen (4), taiko drum (6); Mwata Bowden: baritone saxophone, clarinet; Francis Wong: soprano saxophone; Jeff Chan: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, shinobue (4); Kazu Terashima: shinobue (4); Jonathan Chen: violin; Ryan Toguri, Amy Homma, Hide Yoshihashi, Jason Matsumoto: taiko drum, percussion (4).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.