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Both classic and modern jazz sensibilities flow from the debut recording of guitarist Hironobu Saito. Having performed and received numerous awards in his home of Miyazaki Japan in the '90s, he earned a scholarship at Boston's Berklee School of music in 1999 and is currently performing in many venues in New York.
The recording's style is straight-ahead yet yields a few fresh ideas in the post bop and contemporary arena. All seven compositions are Saito creations and cover various colors, including heavy bebop, cool ballads, and modern lyricism. His tone is even and full and his chops hint of an early George Benson with smoothness, agility, and control.
His seminal bandmates are also impressive, with a potent rhythm section and stellar musicianship. Particular interest goes to pianist Milton Fletcher and saxophonist Walter Smith who provide outstanding lead voices along with the guitarist.
Saito's writing talent is distinguished and draws the listener in with melody on the silky piece "The Unconscious" with its smooth tempo. On the aggressive opening number Saito uses slight delay and volume effects to provide a layered sound. He also slows it down on the dreamy "Memory," adding a lovely solo that is filled with fluency and maturity.
Other bright spots include the ballad "Moonlight Waltz," which contains a memorable vamp, and the swinging groove "A Toon 4 the 121 Crew," which features a tempestuous horn solo by guest trumpeter Darren Barrett.
Saito's academics and performing skills are evident on The Remaining 2% and it's time for the young artist to shine, which he clearly does with this solid debut.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...