287

Taeko Kunishima: Red Dragonfly

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Taeko Kunishima: Red Dragonfly You always hear about the "sophomore jinx," referring to an artist's difficulty in coming up with a second recording that at least matches, and hopefully surpasses, his or her debut. That's seems more a problem in popular music, where the talent pool is considerably shallower than in the jazz world.

Japanese-born and now London-based pianist Taeko Kunishima suffers no sophomore jinx on her second outing, Red Dragonfly. Her debut, Space to Be... (33 Jazz, 2004), was an auspicious beginning and an engagingly lyrical set. Red Dragonfly turns things up a notch and reveals a leap in artistic growth.

Kunishima mixes Japanese themes with jazz modes and comes up with a distinctive and original sound. The opening title tune starts the show with a duo featuring Kunishima on piano and Clive Bell on the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese flute. It's a subdued, haunting listening experience. The shakuhachi has a hollow, breathy sound, blowing like a gentle breeze over Kunishima's delicate accompaniment. Things get jazzier on "Misty Mountain" as the core quartet, including Russel Van Den Berg on soprano sax, delves into this inward-looking, pastoral number. "To Be Scolded" takes things up-tempo, with Van Den Berg on tenor sax, for a high-spirited jazz romp.

"The Moon Above the Ruined Castle" is listed as a Japanese folk song (Kunishima composed all the rest of the tunes), and it's the same piece that Thelonious Monk played on his Straight, No Chaser (Columbia, '67). It was listed there as "Japanese Folk Song (Kojo No Tsuki)," though Orrin Keepnews, in his liner notes to the '96 reissue, says it's actually a Japanese pop song from the thirties. But no matter. Monk's rambling, spirited sixteen-minute take on the tune was a highlight of that disc, and Kunishima's lighter, faster, more succinct approach here is the highlight of Red Dragonfly, with go-for-broke solos by her and saxophonist Van Den Berg, in front of a locked-in bass/drum rhythm, sounding like magic.

"Ink-Black Night" re-introduces the shakuhachi, drifting over a floating rhythm, and "Full of Moonlight" has an ominous feeling, explored in a more mainstream mode with Van Den Berg's throaty tenor sax.

Taeko Kunishima's artistry evolves with this new set; she proves herself one of the more interesting new voices in jazz with Red Dragonfly.

Track Listing: Red Dragonfly (duo); Misty Mountains; To Be Scolded; Cold winter; The Moon Above the Ruined Castle; Ink-Black Night; Night of the Hazy Moon; Tears in the rain; Full Moonlight; Red Dragonfly (band).

Personnel: Taeko Kunishima: piano; Russel Van Den Berg: saxophone; Jim Hart: drums; Richard Pryce: bass. Guest Artist: Clive Bell: shakuhachi.

Title: Red Dragonfly | Year Released: 2006


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Departure CD/LP/Track Review Departure
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 26, 2017
Read I Know Who I Am CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read With You In Mind CD/LP/Track Review With You In Mind
by Doug Collette
Published: July 26, 2017
Read Roll On CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 25, 2017
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "Hark The Herald" CD/LP/Track Review Hark The Herald
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Shawn Maxwell's New Tomorrow" CD/LP/Track Review Shawn Maxwell's New Tomorrow
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Peace
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Hallways" CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Of the Tree" CD/LP/Track Review Of the Tree
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 9, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!