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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Natsuki Tamura, Dragon Nat

Where the borderline between "new music" and "free" improvisation or avant jazz exists has become blurred over the last several decades. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, it is a healthy thing for music when categories get upended, conflated or ignored. What it decidedly is NOT good for is the internet or in ages past, record bins and brick-and-mortar stores. If radical enough the "where do you put it?" question becomes difficult, and always, marketing needs to know.

Today's CD does not shake the foundations of our music classification system. Yet it does invite thought on the subject. Japanese trumpeter-jazz composer Natsuki Tamura is in the "jazz" camp by association. His many recordings with pianist Satoko Fujii and the music they play together testifies to that. But if you listen to his solo trumpet CD Dragon Nat (Libra 101-032) without preconceptions, you will no doubt experience a link to new music.

It's simply him and no one else for a full CD divided into eight pieces. It's Natsuki, his trumpet, a few assorted bells and small percussion and his voice, and it is the opposite of fast-paced.

Speed and energy are not significant factors in this recital. It is improvisation based on things that have been done as part of the Gato Libre band, which has pronounced folkish-Japanese roots.

In this recital he pares down to focus on simple unwinding melodic material, the sound of his trumpet as a sensuous thing, a periodicity. Taken as a whole it is a kind of environmental tone poem for the moment Natsuki is in now.

If you do away with expectations and just listen it will win you over. It has a timeless, out-of-time introspection to it and it relies on Natsuki's expanded time-consciousness to weave long-stranded soliloquies in sound that have their own weight and pace.

This is not an album to wow you as much as it is a meditation on the creative moment-at-hand. When approached with a wiped-slate one will get something that belongs on its own turf. Reflect and enjoy!

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