Born in Hiroshima in 1945, Akira Sakata combined time as an in demand free-jazz saxophonist with a rewarding career as a marine biologist. He flies to the Café OTO in London for this very exciting free jazz concert, recorded with Giovanni di Domenico on piano, Roger Turner on bass and John Edwards on drums. “Kaigara-Bushi (Cafe OTO version)” is the main event, a thirty-eight minute collective improvisation that alternately raises the roof and walks in the shadows. It begins with a drone, making for an ominous start with saxophone and drums skittering through the air. There are droplets of piano too, as everyone looks for their opening, and then some fine swirling piano and saxophone to build up tension, which is broken emphatically by Edwards drums. It is interesting the way the group is able to move between aspects of post-bop jazz and way out free improvisation, which gives them a wide and deep space to create in. The music moves into a section of collective improvisation that is very impressive as the quartet weaves a bold tapestry of sound led by the howling and excoriating sounds of Sakata’s saxophone. The music is dynamic in nature and will drift off into surprising places that Sakata will punctuate with vocal shouts and the music is never in one place, pivoting to blasting drums breaking free to duel with the leader’s saxophone as heavy, loud piano notes rain down. They head back to a scalding free jazz area with pounding piano and drums, taut bass and wailing sax. The musicians allow the sounds to fade gradually, and now we are left with subtle percussion moving like a forward infantry scout in this patient and abstract portion, while the rest of the band is lying in wait before bursting through. Sakata now punctuates his saxophone playing with singing, groaning and yelling, as he is completely emotionally attached to the music and the moment. Massive swells of piano, bass and drums crash through, washing, cleansing and quieting before the soft breathy sound of Sakata’s saxophone and brushed percussion end this epic. The encore “Tornado” is aptly named, with the rhythm trio charging out of the gate with a torrential rain of piano notes led by thick bass and epic drumming. The leader’s saxophone enters with a ripe and powerful sound and you get an excellent collectively improvised section with peals of saxophone and monstrous drumming, capping off an excellent and thoroughly recommended free jazz session. SAKATA / DI DOMENICO / TURNER / EDWARDS 15.01.14 - OTOROKU Records
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