Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Tomas Fujiwara - Triple Double (Firehouse 12 Records, 2017)

Tomas Fujiwara is a New York City based drummer and composer who has created a wide variety of music both as a leader and as a sideman. His new band Triple Double features Gerald Cleaver on drums, Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook on guitar, Ralph Alessi on trumpet and Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet. The music they create is complex and exciting with the twin guitar, brass and percussion setup offering a great template for the playing of Fujiwara’s compositions. “Diving for Quarters” is the opening track and the longest on the album, establishing their bona fides with scratching and scrambling guitars, and smears if brass with ever shifting percussion underpinning it all. Halvorson and Seabrook are an explosive combination but one that works well together, as do the trumpet and cornet in the following track “Blueberry Card.” It is interesting to hear the instruments weave in and around each other, making bracing and challenging music, while managing not to step on each other’s toes. “For Alan”, is a drum duet and it is framed by clips of conversation between a very young Tomas Fujiwara and the legendary jazz drummer Alan Dawson, who was his teacher. This works well by placing Dawson’s wisdom alongside the leader showing just what he learned from his mentor and putting that into action. Family is very important to Fujiwara and he takes inspiration from his ancestors which leads to more melodic and thematically centered material such as "Love and Protest" which uses a yearning statement to develop a stern and serious performance where the drums rumble ominously under the stoic horns. Shimmering, ghostly guitar comes through to take the performance in a new direction, reverberating throughout the improvisation, providing shading and color. Powerful brass and percussion interplay takes over, making for a potent improvised section, leading to a collective blowout that is as exciting as it is impressive. "Decisive Shadow" follows, with skittish guitar and drums creating interesting rhythmic patterns before the horns enter with a burnished fanfare. The brass stretch out against the full band with interesting solo statements, then fascinating spidery guitar playing takes over from there, urgently pushing the music into faster and more idiosyncratic territory, with declamatory horns framing the frenetic improvisation leading to a riotous conclusion. This is a very interesting group that makes the most of the unusual configuration of instruments by developing a confident group identity and a unique manner of performing. The music often changes so suddenly that it seems to be in continuous motion, and it's impressive in its complexity and quite immersive as each member of the band is focused on the spontaneity of the others. Triple Double - amazon.com

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