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."