Saco Yasuma: Another Rain – Saco Yasuma, alto sax and xaphoon (bamboo sax); Andrew Bemkey, piano and bass clarinet; Ken Filiano, bass; Michael T. A. Thompson, drums and percussion; Roy Campbell Jr., trumpet and flugelhorn; Golda Solomon, voice – Leaf Note

by | Jul 23, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Saco Yasuma: Another Rain – Saco Yasuma, alto sax and xaphoon (bamboo sax); Andrew Bemkey, piano and bass clarinet; Ken Filiano, bass; Michael T. A. Thompson, drums and percussion; Roy Campbell Jr., trumpet and flugelhorn; Golda Solomon, voice – Leaf Note LNP-0208, 68 mins. ***1/2:

This free-jazz outing from Saco Yasuma, while about as far outside the mainstream as possible on many levels, is essentially just a hard-blowing quintet date. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, she breaks the mold by playing the sax, a traditionally male instrument. Her five-piece ensemble plows through a challenging set of Yasuma originals, with the only exception being track seven: ‘Straight Upwards,’ which was co-written by the members of the quintet. Drummer/percussionist and session producer Michael T.A. Thompson is integral to the proceedings here, and his smooth work on the sticks along with bassist Ken Filiano gives a firm underpinning to the session.

The true exception to the jazz form here is track five: ‘Calm Water,’ on which Saco Yasuma plays the xaphoon, which is a bamboo saxophone and apparently common in traditional Japanese music. The tune successfully morphs jazz with ethnically Japanese sounds to create a truly unique synthesis. ‘Fat Orange Moon,’ which features a spoken word segment by poet Golda Solomon, is a true throwback to the musings of jazz poets from the beat generation. ‘A Wind Blew Into My Hands’ is a powerful alto sax solo by Ms. Yasuma which reminded me a great deal of late-period John Coltrane.

The sound quality of this disc was first-rate in every respect. While the musical content might qualify as something of an acquired taste for many listeners, true jazzheads will revel in its lack of inhibitions. Recommended.

TrackList: Invisible Matters; Liquid Entity; Fat Orange Moon; The Fifth Season; Calm Water; Labyrinth; Straight Upwards; A Wind Blew Into My Hands; Another Rain.

– Tom Gibbs
 

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