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Carlo Actis Dato / Kazutoki Umezu: Wake Up with the Birds

Robert Spencer By

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There is so much happening on this disc that it's hard to believe that there are only two musicians. But what musicians they are! Multi-instrumentalist reed men Carlo Actis Dato, from Italy, and Kazutoki Umezu, from Japan, are a combustible combination, and their series of six duos here is a nonstop wonder of improvisational invention. Their rhythmic abilities are so dynamic as to render a rhythm section utterly superfluous.

In the liner notes there's a photo of the duo, and in the photo there's another photo on the wall - of Eric Dolphy. He's an apt progenitor of this music, for while he never ventured this far out, both Carlo Actis Dato and Kazutoki Umezu share his wild and free melodicism. This music can be furiously propulsive (and high-octane lyrical), as on the opening "Mad Chickens." It can also be playful, as one may expect by now from Actis Dato. "Wild Shells" begins with both men vocalizing. It's hard to tell who's who, but one of them is doing an aces impersonation of Tuvan throat singing.

Both, at various points during these duos, sound the tones of their native folk musics. Other points (parts of "Afrocats") are just simply lovely, despite the full-throttle nature of the proceedings. This is a chance to hear two first-line improvisers who are little-known Stateside. Don't pass this one up.

Carlo Actis Dato, ts, baritone s, b cl; Kazutoki Umezu, ss, as, Bb cl, b cl.


Title: Wake Up with the Birds | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Leo Records


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