Monday, August 03, 2020

Miles Okazaki - Trickster's Dream (Pi Recordings, 2020)

Like a lot of groups, guitarist Miles Okazaki's band Trickster, Matt Mitchell on piano, Anthony Tidd on bass and Sean Rickman on drums, had their 2020 tour cancelled due to health concerns. Not willing to fold his tent, he re-arranged some existing music, developed some new pieces, and enlisted his band to create a virtual concert. The music is excellent, and considering the circumstances, you wouldn't know it wasn't another studio album if he didn't tell you the whole story. "Rise and Shine" opens the album by building up a fast guitar strum and snarl to a stinging solo statement of purpose. Things change a bit on "Seven Sisters," which has an intricate and complex light shower of piano notes as the track develops a near eastern feel with quality bass playing and electronics adding texture through guitar pedals. "Interlude 1: Rising" uses solo low toned bass with guitar intertwined, and hearing bowed bass setting a dizzying and hallucinatory sensation, as electric guitar ads sharp shards of conflicting sound. The group develops a fuller sound on "Anthemoessa," with crisp drumming, playing along side melodic piano and bass. Okazaki's guitar enters and gradually assumes control with an electronically enhanced solo. "Interlude 2: Sustaining" demonstrates nimble string playing at mid tempo with understated bass sounding mellow against nervous, slashing drums and spare droplets of piano. A snappy slightly funky full group feel is at play on "Dog Star," where crisp drumming and cascading piano soloing over rapid bass clear a path for a belting electric guitar solo, snaking low to the ground sounding good. "The Castaway" has a mellow and laconic mid tempo feel, with gradually developing piano that weaves through, while "Interlude 3: Dreaming" uses a dark strumming theme, with electronically developing sounds all around around. This creates an interesting sound field of wild electro-acoustic improvisation. The finale, "Caduceus" kneads fast, heavy drums into more conventional guitar and bass, with deft piano adding further texture. Rapid and nimble guitar and piano amid tight bass and drums play crackling modern jazz. This was a very well played album that was experimental and accessible at the same time. All four musicians played very well, and Okazaki has a real vision for his music, which he was been developing as a player an composer as each successive album he has released. Trickster's Dream - Bandcamp

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