Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Tomas Fujiwara and the Hook Up (482 Music, 2015)

The Hook Up band led by drummer Tomas Fujiwara has been together for nearly eight years now and their sense of togetherness is really borne out by the playing on this album, propelling Fujiwara’s interesting and complex compositions. The band consists of Mary Halvorson on guitar, Michael Formanek on bass, Brian Settles on tenor saxophone and flute and Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet. “Lastly” opens with drums, a little skittering guitar and a touch of flute giving the proceedings a mysterious air. They develop a medium tempo, with trumpet sliding in over flinty shards of guitar. Cymbals shimmer and call the group patiently to order, before moving to a percussion based trumpet solo. Nimble guitar and drums set the tone for ”The Comb” which has shards of guitar and percussion, both of which are light and graceful. There is a selection of collective improvisation, which like almost all of the music on this album has a shape-shifting quality where everything is not quite what it seems. After a graceful drum feature on “For Tom and Gerald” the group returns on “Boaster’s Roast” where trumpet and angular guitar develop a sense of openness amidst rumbling drums. The music builds quickly with hammering percussion and squalls of epic guitar, followed by the full band returning in layers. The music changes so rapidly that it is hard to keep track, it is impressive in its complexity and quite immersive as each member of the band is attuned to the others. Fujiwara leads by example with tight and amazingly supple control of his instrument. “Solar Wind” has hollow sounding drums that develop a complex rhythm. Settles’ saxophone nudges in setting up a fine trio section, added to with Finlayson’s trumpet making for a conversational sound. There are solo sections for trumpet and bass, shaded ably by Mary Halvorson’s guitar. This is a very interesting group that makes the most of their long time together by developing a unique band identity. After All Is Said -

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