Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Akira Sakata / Simon Nabatov / Takashi Seo / Darren Moore - Not Seeing Is a Flower (Leo Records, 2018)

According to Google, In Japan, the phrase "not seeing is a flower" means things will never be as you imagine, so you're better off not seeing them, making it an interesting allegory to freely improvised music. The talented band on this album consists of Takashi Seo on bass, Akira Sakata on alto saxophone, clarinet, vocals and percussion, Darren Moore on drums and percussion and Simon Nabatov on piano. The music unfolds gradually almost like a ceremony that is improvised in that very moment, beginning with "Surge" which has spare piano, bowed bass and percussion.  The music gains a faster pace quickly, with a rolling collective improvisation that Sakata gradually joins a few minutes in with his trademark gruff and powerful saxophone playing, and this pushes the music over the top into a stellar free jazz blowout that is very exciting. The music moves dramatically into open space, allowing for raw saxophone to flourish, gradually moving into the track "Retreat" with delicate piano creating an evocative mood, picking up speed and dancing through the short piece with bass and drums. Sakata returns for "Uncoil" with subtle brushwork and taut bass nearby, turning darker with scouring bass and saxophone swooping in. The music swells with intensity as the band comes together to become a near physical force of power and grace. Their playing is able to wax and wane, with Moore deftly weaving quiet brushes in with powerful pummeling. Thick tones of bass alternate with ripe bowing, leading to amazing textures that pull in the whole group, with dexterous and propulsive piano to boot. Sakata's startling vocalizations are at the heart of "Ritual" with percussion, piano and bass creating a phalanx behind him, the music seethes coiled power and energy, while at the same time evoking a solemn and ceremonial sensibility. "Resolve" has Sakata moving to clarinet, the light nimble sound seemingly at odds with his gritty saxophone and vocals. The rhythm sections pushes relentlessly and the music develops a unique drive and sense of motion, sounding stark and pungent. This leads the to impressive finale, "Abscond" which develops over fourteen minutes to strong statement of this group's prowess. Sakata's raw and stoic saxophone is quite affecting and the musicians around him are no less potent, creating a collectively improvised tapestry of considerable color and vividness, which is also an apt description of this excellent album as a whole. Not Seeing Is A Flower - amazon.com

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