Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

287

Taeko Kunishima: Red Dragonfly

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
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 Formidable CD/LP/Track Review Formidable
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Cochonnerie CD/LP/Track Review Cochonnerie
by John Sharpe
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Threes CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Smoke CD/LP/Track Review Smoke
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Unfiltered Universe" CD/LP/Track Review Unfiltered Universe
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 29, 2017
Read "Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis" CD/LP/Track Review Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "The Behemoth" CD/LP/Track Review The Behemoth
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "Then and Now" CD/LP/Track Review Then and Now
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "By A Thread" CD/LP/Track Review By A Thread
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "Signs" CD/LP/Track Review Signs
by Doug Collette
Published: September 10, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor