197

Taeko Kunishima: Red Dragonfly

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Taeko Kunishima and her quartet have largely managed to avoid a lot of the well-covered ground in the modern mainstream area, and in so doing she's carved out an identity for herself both as a composer and a piano improviser—while the group, admirably suited to the subtle, implied demands of her music, has succeeded in carving out an identity distinctly its own.

Kunishima has utilised her Japanese heritage in her music, and the presence of Clive Bell on shakuhachi on some tracks serves to emphasise this. On "Ink-Black Night" his work has the effect of taking the music far beyond common ground, an impression that's aided in no small part by the fact that Kunishima as a composer doesn't employ too much of the harmonic density that many musicians seem to regard as compulsory these days. Bell's instrument has a lot in common with the Western flute, but the way he utilises it adds a distinctly different colour to this musical palette.

On "Cold Winter" and elsewhere, Russell Van Den Berg highlights how owing some greater or lesser debt of allegiance to Wayne Shorter need not necessarily manifest itself in tonal reproduction. Instead, the influence manifests itself (particularly in his tenor sax work) in a certain knotty, sometimes intriguingly unresolved way with a phrase—as though even in the quicksilver business of putting out musical ideas, he is at the same time also engaged in a kind of editing process, rigorously tailoring his ideas the meet the demands of the fleeting musical moment.

Perhaps the most prominent aspect of Kunishima's piano work is her penchant for understatement; she never plays five notes when four notes will suffice, and her avoidance of the tricks seemingly so beloved of many younger pianists is welcome indeed. One listen to "Night Of The Hazy Moon" is enough to confirm this.

If the "Spanish tinge" Jelly Roll Morton referred to was a component in his music, then it might just as easily be said that the "Japanese tinge" in Kunishima's could be the very thing that lifts this programme out of the ordinary. Taken as a whole, this recording is distinctive enough to justify repeated listening.


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 ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Reflections in Cosmo" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections in Cosmo
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four" CD/LP/Track Review B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959" CD/LP/Track Review Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Closer To The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Closer To The Sun
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Media vita" CD/LP/Track Review Media vita
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 10, 2017
Read "Poetry For The Beat Generation" CD/LP/Track Review Poetry For The Beat Generation
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 11, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.