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Kazuki Yamanaka: Songs Unconscious-minded

C. Michael Bailey By

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Track review of "HAMABE-NO-UTA"

Kazuki Yamanaka: Songs Unconscious-minded Multi-reedist Kazuki Yamanaka is a newly-minted jazz musician, assimilated into New York City and in touch with all of the right friends. For his debut recording as a leader, Songs Unconscious- minded, Yamanaka has composed and arranged seven original compositions and one traditional Japanese melody, revealing in the bargain, a well-developed sense of musical self, possessing a calm but fearless creative nature. Central to the recording is the opener, "Let Go." It encapsulates Yamanaka's beyond post-bop vision and his proclivity for precise and focused composition.

But it is "HAMABE-NO-UTA," that reflects the emotional center of Yamanaka's playing. "HAMABE-NO-UTA" is Yamanaka's revision and performance of a traditional Japanese folk melody that strikes to the heart of post-swing saxophone playing. Yamanaka performs on a soprano saxophone, approaching a spiritual center like that of John Coltrane sans the paroxysmal histrionics. The melody is simple, almost a western nursery rhyme, that is beautiful in its simplicity and grace. Add to this the saxophonist's band of bassist Linda Oh and drummer E.J. Strickland coupled with pianist Fabian Almazan and guitarist Gilad Hekselman add a depth and gravity to the piece that quietly points out that, "this is important music: listen closely."

Personnel: Kazuki Yamanaka: soprano saxophone; Gilad Hekselman: guitar; Fabian Almazan: piano; Linda Oh: bass; E.J. Strickland: drums.

Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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