In 2011, Chicago-based-guitarist Andrew Trim and multi-reedist Mai Sugimoto set their sights on raising funds for victims of the horrific Japanese tsunami with a one-off concert, ultimately leading to the formation of this band. Moreover, the group moniker Hanami, equates to the Japanese custom of experiencing the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms. With its second release, the quartet rather triumphantly bridges the outside spectrum with memorable melodic content, often paving a path for the musicians' robust improvisational exercises. Thus, it's a refreshing and perhaps rare event, where upbeat and hard-hitting avant-garde type expressionism seamlessly coalesces with hummable themes and other pleasantries. This is an LP-only release that includes a free digital download card or can be purchased via the normal digital download processes and online marketplaces.
Bass clarinetist Jason Stein handles the bottom-end and engages in multidimensional soloing activities with his band-mates. Whereas, "Donmai!" signals an Ornette Coleman style vibe amid a crunching breakdown, amped by the hornists' torrid soloing activities that morph the band's direction into a forceful groove, peppered by drummer Charles Rumback's slapping Latin-jazz beats. Again, most of these works offer tuneful primary melodies, spawning magnetic qualities. But "Kita Nagano Motorcycle Gange," is a rough and tumble head-banging free-form delight, underscored with a circular hook and Rumback's pounding drum parts.
The album was recorded using analog tapes funneled thru tube amps that provide a broad soundstage, especially during "Kanzemizu," where Stein and Sugimoto present a deterministic gait, framed by Trim's hard-strumming chord patterns. Hence, the quartet merges a psychedelic, grunge rock platform with weaving melodic overtures. And the final track "Kojo No Tsuki," sparks a 360-degree turnaround into trad jazz territory, although the hornists' subtly and keenly inject traces of free- jazz into big picture. By and large, it's an album that grew on me and monopolized time on my turntable, yielding a surfeit of gratifying factors from start to finish.
The Only Way To Float Free; Shira Ito No Taki; Donmai!; Kito Nagano Motorcycle
Gang; Hanaikada; Kojo No Tsuki
Andrew Trim: guitar; Mai Sugimoto: alto saxophone, clarinet; Jason Stein: bass
clarinet; Charles Rumback: drums.