The Squid's Ear Magazine


First Meeting (Tamura / Fujii / Churko / Yamamoto): Cut The Rope (Libra)

Trumpeter Tamura in an album of improvisational fragmentation, textural and timbral explorations, and rapid-fire juxtapositions that create kaleidoscopic sound collages.
 

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Personnel:



Natsuki Tamura-trumpet

Kwlly Churko-guitar

Satoko Fujii-piano

Tatsuhisa Yamamoto-drums


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UPC: 4562169330252

Label: Libra
Catalog ID: 104-025
Squidco Product Code: 12779

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2010
Country: Japan
Packaging: Cardstock Sleeve
Recorded, mixed and mastered on June 17, 2009 at Pit Inn, Tokyo by Naoto Araki,

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura swings from the most hard-edged abstraction to the most touching lyricism on his two latest releases. On Cut the Rope (Libra) with First Meeting - Tamura, pianist Satoko Fujii, guitarist Kelly Churko, and drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto - Tamura pursues some of the most rigorously abstract free improvisation he's ever recorded. At the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Tamura's acoustic band "Gato Libre" - with Fujii on accordion, Kazuhiko Tsumura on guitar, and Norikatsu Koreyasu on bass - creates music of melodic, if surreal beauty on their fourth album Shiro (Libra). There are very few trumpeters capable of inhabiting such widely different musical worlds, but Tamura sounds equally at home in both settings.

Cut the Rope sounds unlike any other album Tamura has made. Conventional melody and structure take a back seat to fragmentation, textural and timbral explorations, and rapid-fire juxtapositions that create kaleidoscopic sound collages. Each track on this completely improvised CD is complex, but purposeful. The improvisations sound complete and organic because the careful listening, expert judgment, and musicianship of the band members shapes the music. The title track, for instance opens with the metallic clangor of cymbals, piercing wails from the trumpet, electric staccato bursts from guitar, and prepared piano. At times it is difficult to tell who is making which sound. The tension builds as the music grows denser and the pace quickens. Then it opens into a quiet spacious area pierced by high ghostly trumpet and rumbling piano chords, before building to a crescendo again. The band makes amazing use of texture and tone color on "Headwaters." Fujii's prepared piano sounds like a warped recording of a gamelon, while Churko scratches and scrapes, and Tamura growls and moans. The piece unexpectedly resolves into a simple, folk-like melody with jazzy guitar chords. On "Flashback," Churko's guitar buzzes and howls like a power saw as Tamura bends red-hot notes into tortured patterns. Drummer Yamamoto seems to be everywhere at once, an inescapable presence in the music racing around his drum kit interjecting rhythm and color. On "Kaleidoscopic," every sound is grist for this band's mill, with references to the blues, art rock, Stockhausen, free jazz, European free improvisation, all swirling and colliding in one of the most surprising and thrilling tracks on an already startling album.

[...]

A veteran of groups in both Japan and the United States, including quartets and big bands led by his wife, pianist Satoko Fujii, Tamura is a trumpet virtuoso praised by Derk Richardson in the San Francisco Bay Guardian for "Stylistically spanning a spectrum of musical history that includes trumpeters Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Lester Bowie, and Toshinori Kondo..." As a leader, he has made 11 albums, including two unaccompanied solo discs, as well as four by Gato Libre, and two by his electric quartet. He and Satoko Fujii have also made several duet albums, and Tamura worked with Fujii and drummer John Hollenbeck in the collective Junk Box trio. "Tamura has worked to develop highly personal sound," writes Jason Bivins in Cadence, "employing various new techniques and tonal resources, including growls, flutters, squirts and split tones... beautiful music, defined by its intelligence and risk."

Tamura's penchant for risk-taking has never been more obvious than on his two widely divergent new releases."-Brathwaite & Katz


Get additional information at Braithwaite and Katz

Artist Biographies

"Japanese trumpeter and composer Natsuki Tamura is internationally recognized for a unique musical vocabulary that blends extended techniques with jazz lyricism. This unpredictable virtuoso's seemingly limitless creativity led François Couture in All Music Guide to declare that "... we can officially say there are two Natsuki Tamuras: The one playing angular jazz-rock or ferocious free improv... and the one writing simple melodies of stunning beauty... How the two of them live in the same body and breathe through the same trumpet might remain a mystery."

Born on July 26, 1951, in Otsu, Shiga, Japan, Tamura first picked up the trumpet while performing in his junior high brass band. He began his professional music career after he graduated from high school, playing in numerous bands including the World Sharps Orchestra, Consolation, Skyliners Orchestra, New Herd Orchestra, Music Magic Orchestra, and the Satoko Fujii Ensemble, as well as in his own ensemble. He was the trumpeter for numerous national television shows in Japan from 1973-1982, including The Best Ten, Music Fair, Kirameku Rhythm and many others.

In 1986, he came to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music. He then returned to his native Japan to perform and teach at the Yamaha Popular Music School and at private trumpet studios in Tokyo and Saitama, before coming back to the US to study at New England Conservatory. He made his debut recording as a leader in 1992 on Tobifudo.

In 1997 he released the duo album How Many? with pianist Satoko Fujii, who is also his wife. It marked the beginning of an artistic collaboration that continues up to the present. The duo has made a total of five CDs over the years, including 2012's Muku. "Muku contains some truly stunning, spine-tingling music...its sheer beauty and elegance is what lingers most," wrote Dave Wayne in All About Jazz. "Fujii's orchestral technique, clear chromatic lines and "prepared piano" devices contrast effectively with Tamura's arsenal of extended techniques which he executes with a warm, vocalized tone throughout the trumpet's full range," Ted Panken said in his four-star DownBeat review. Tamura's collaborations with Fujii reveal an intense musical empathy, and have garnered wide popular and critical acclaim. Jim Santella in All About Jazz described their synergy well in his glowing review of the couple's 2006 Not Two disc, In Krakow, In November: "... the creative couple forcefully demonstrates what can happen when you let your musical ideas run free... Similarly, Tamura's mournful trumpet can fly high or low in search of his next surprise. Oftentimes, they both issue plaintive moans that sing like angels on high." Their sixth duet album is due out in 2017.

In 1998, Tamura began recording his unaccompanied solo performances. The stunning solo trumpet debut release, A Song for Jyaki earned a Writers Choice 1998 in Coda magazine, and Andy Bartlett wrote in Coda, "A fabulous set of hiccuping leaps, drones and post-bop trumpet hi-jinx. Tamura goes from growling lows to fluid, free solo runs and echoes not only Don Cherry's slurring anti-virtuosic chops but also Kenny Wheeler's piercing highwire fullness." He followed it up in 2003 with KoKoKoKe, which Jon Davis described in Exposé as "Buddhist chants from an alien planet." Grego Applegate Edwards explains that on Tamura's most recent solo album, 2013's Dragon Nat, "he pares down to focus on simple unwinding melodic material, the sound of his trumpet as a sensuous thing, a periodicity. Taken as a whole it is a kind of environmental tone poem for the moment Natsuki is in now."

2003 was a breakout year for Tamura as a bandleader, with the release of Hada Hada, featuring his free jazz-avant rock quartet with Fujii on synthesizer. Peter Marsh of the BBC had this to say about the high voltage CD: "Imagine Don Cherry woke up one morning, found he'd joined an avant goth-rock band and was booked to score an Italian horror movie. It might be an unlikely scenario, but it goes some way to describing this magnificent sprawl of a record." The quartet's 2004 Quartet release Exit was deemed "...a brilliantly executed set with a neon glow," by Dan McClenaghan in All About Jazz.

In 2005, Tamura made a 180-degree turn in his music with the debut of his all acoustic Gato Libre quartet. Focusing on the intersection of European folk music and sound abstraction, the quartet featured Fujii on accordion, Kazuhiko Tsumura on guitar, and Norikatsu Koreyasu on bass. The quartet's poetic, quietly surreal performances have been praised for their "surprisingly soft and lyrical beauty that at times borders on flat-out impressionism," by Rick Anderson in CD Hotlist. Dan McClenaghan in All About Jazz described their fourth CD, Shiro, as "intimate, something true to the simple beauty of the folk tradition...Tamura's career has largely been about dissolving musical boundaries. With Gato Libre and Shiro, the trumpeter extends his reach even deeper into the prettiest, most accessible of his endeavors." After the unexpected passing of Norikatsu in 2012, Tamura added trombonist Yasuko Kaneko to the group. The new configuration has toured Europe and Japan and released its debut recording, DuDu, in 2014. "DuDu follows the winning formula of its predecessors but, as with the other discs, eschews the formulaic. The result is another sublimely satisfying, elegant record that brims with raw excitement and a reflective nostalgia," writes Hrayr Attarian in All About Jazz. With the tragic death of guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura, Gato Libre is now a trio. They will release a CD and LP in 2017.

In 2010, Tamura debuted a new electric quartet, First Meeting, featuring Fujii, drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto and electric guitarist Kelly Churko. Their first release, Cut the Rope, is "is a noisy, free, impatient album, and ranks among Fujii and Tamura's most accomplished," according to Steve Greenlee in the Boston Globe.

While fronting groups and recording as a leader, Tamura has also played an integral role in nearly all of Satoko Fujii's many projects. He is featured on all of the CDs by Satoko Fujii's various orchestras (NY, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, and Berlin) and has contributed original compositions and arrangements to each of their 19 critically celebrated albums. In addition, he was a featured soloist in the Satoko Fujii Quartet, her avant-rock free jazz group that also included Tatsuya Yoshida of The Ruins. Of his work on the quartet's 2003 release Minerva, Mark Keresman wrote in JazzReview.com, "Natsuki Tamura's trumpet has some of the stark, melancholy lyricism of Miles, the bristling rage of late 60s Freddie Hubbard and a dollop of the extended techniques of Wadada Leo Smith and Lester Bowie."

Tamura is a vital member of Fujii's Min-Yo Ensemble as well. "Tamura tempers his avant-garde antics with an innate lyricism," wrote Steve Smith of Time Out New York in his review of Fujin Raijin, the intimate acoustic quartet's debut CD. He's also been singled out for his contributions to Fujii's ma do ensemble. "With Tamura's brash and glowing lines, the band incorporates mesmeric ostinatos and thrusting opuses into the grand schema," Glenn Astarita wrote in Ejazznews about their first CD, Desert Ship.

Collaborative groups also play an important role in Tamura's career. Most recently, Tamura joined Fujii and two French musicians, trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins, to form Kaze, which made their recording debut in 2011. In 2015, they released their third album, Uminari, which Jazz Magazine (France) called, "a compelling example of free jazz today. Compositions are perfectly scripted, with a well-oiled interaction and playing of beautiful power..." The collaborative trio Junk Box, which he co-founded in 2006 along with pianist Fujii and drummer John Hollenbeck, plays Fujii's "composed improvisations," graphic scores that take "ensemble dynamics to great creative heights," says Kevin Le Gendre in Jazzwise. Their music "is full of bluster and agitation that nonetheless retains moments of great melodic beauty, usually by way of concise, pertly pretty motifs that trumpeter Tamura plays in between bursts of withering roars that often dissolve into austere overtones." Their premiere CD, Fragment, appeared in 2006. As Daniel Spicer wrote of Fragment in JazzWise, "Tamura spits out gloriously rude Lester-Bowie-like snorts, lows like a herd of robotic cattle or makes like a wheezy howler monkey... Cool and clever." Glenn Astarita of All About Jazz declared it "Required listening."

Along the way, there have been one-off cooperative groups and sideman appearances for Tamura as well. In the Tank, an ad hoc quartet with Fujii and electric guitarists Takayuki Kato and Elliott Sharp, is a "triumphant electro-acoustic adventure" according to Daniel Spicer of Jazzwise. "Think AMM meets blues guitar meets 1970s Miles Davis and you get some idea of the disc's flavor: a slow-moving panorama for the ears, where sounds are systematically added, repeated, refined, and replaced in turn," wrote Nate Dorward in Cadence. Tamura and Fujii were one of two piano/trumpet duos featured on the Double Duo Crossword Puzzle CD, a live recording with Dutch trumpeter Angelo Verploegen and pianist Misha Mengelberg. Tamura has also toured and recorded with saxophonist Larry Ochs' Sax and Drumming Core, and appeared on albums by drummer Jimmy Weinstein, saxophonist Raymond McDonald, and CDs by Japanese free-jazz pioneers trumpeter Itaru Oki and pianist Masahiko Sato. In 2014 he released Nax, a duet album with bassist Alexander Frangenheim. Tamua has toured throughout Japan, North America, and Europe, appearing at major jazz festivals, concert halls, and clubs."

-Natsuki Tamura Website (http://www.natsukitamura.com/bio)
6/17/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Born on October 9, 1958 in Tokyo, Japan, Fujii began playing piano at four and received classical training until twenty, when she turned to jazz. From 1985-87, she studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music, where her teachers included Herb Pomeroy and Bill Pierce. She returned to Japan for six years before returning to the US to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where her teachers included George Russell, Cecil McBee, and Paul Bley, who appeared on her debut CD Something About Water (Libra, 1996).

Since then Fujii has been an innovative bandleader and soloist, a tireless seeker of new sounds, and a prolific recording artist in ensembles ranging from duos to big bands. She has showcased her astonishing range and ability approximately 80 CDs as leader or co-leader. With each new recording or new band, she explores new aspects of her art.

Regular collaborations include her New York trio with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black, augmented by trumpeter/husband Natsuki Tamura to form the Satoki Fujii Four; her duo with Tamura; the Satoko Fujii Quartet featuring Tatsuya Yoshida of the Japanese avant-rock duo, The Ruins; Orchestra New York, which boasts the cream of New York's contemporary avant garde improvisers, including saxophonists Ellery Eskelin and Tony Malaby, trumpeters Herb Roberton and Steven Bernstein, and trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, among others; Orchestra Tokyo, drawing on that city's best improvisers; Orchestra Nagoya; Orchestra Kobe; the co-operative trio Junk Box with Tamura and percussionist John Hollenbeck; ma-do, a quartet including Tamura on trumpet, bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu, and Akira Horikoshi; the Min-Yoh Ensemble with Tamura, trombonist Hasselbring, and accordionist Andrea Parkins; the Satoko Fujii New Trio, featuring bassist Todd Nicholson and drummer Takashi Itani― plus countless engagements and collaborations with some of the world's most important improvisers."

-Satoko Fujii Website (http://www.satokofujii.com/bio.html)
6/17/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Tatsuhisa Yamamoto, born on Oct 25, 1982, in Yamaguchi, Japan, is a pure acoustic drummer, not an electric drummer. He plays primarily improvised music, and participates in a variety of bands, projects, supporting singers, and has produced multiple recordings. Yamamoto's solo acoustic performance succeeds in combining dynamism, melodicism and polyrhythm, fusing overwhelming volume with delicate technique.

Yamamoto has also collaborated with artists such as Otomo Yoshihide, Jim O'Rourke, Sachiko M, RUINS, Seiichi Yamamoto (ex.boredoms), Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Keiji Haino, Akira Sakata, Kumio Kurachi, Daisuke Takaoka, Makoto Kawabata (AcidMotherTemple), Munehiro Narita(HIGHRISE), Mitsuru Tabata(ZENI-GEVA/AMT&TCI), Masahiko Sato, Yuji Takahashi, Gianni Gebbia, Ned Rothenberg, Daniele Camalda, Alan Silva, and many others.

Yamamoto's main projects are SSW, a duo with "Eiko Ishibashi"; "NATSUMEN", a band lead by AxSxE; acoustic & synthesized drums duo with Muneomi Senju (ex.Boredoms); "Plus Minus Zero"a live electronica & psychedelic prog jam trio with Yuji Katsui (ROVO) and marron a.k.a. dubmarronics; "FirstMeeting," an acoustic noise improvisation Quartet with Natsuki Tamura, Satoko Fujii, and Kelly Churko; "Ohanami," a unit with Yoshio Machida on the steelpan; as well as recordings with the Kahimi Karie band featuring Otomo Yoshihide and Jim O'Rourke. Recently he has been performing regularly with Jim O'Rourke. He participates in, and organizes multiple projects around Tokyo."

-Cafe OTO (https://www.cafeoto.co.uk/artists/tatsuhisa-yamamoto/)
6/17/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Cut The Rope 13:49

2. Headwaters 9:42

3. Flashback 4:22

4. Kaleidoscopic 24:21

5. Sublimation 13:05

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Quartet Recordings
Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura's Libra Label

Search for other titles on the label:
Libra.


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