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Toyozumi, Sabu / Simon Tan / Rick Countryman / Yong Yandsen: Voices Of The Spirit (ChapChap Records)

Recorded during a series of concerts reuniting alto saxphonist Rick Countryman with mentor and friend, drummer Sabu Toyozumi, this live concert at Tago Jazz Cafe in Philippines includes acoustic bassist Simon Tan and free improvising Malaysian tenor saxophonist Yong Yandsen, in an adventurous set of extended performances of intertwining reeds and rhythm; superb!

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product information:

UPC: 4573461450135

Label: ChapChap Records
Catalog ID: CPCD-016
Squidco Product Code: 29237

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: Philippines
Packaging: Digipack
Live at Tago Jazz Cafe in Philippines, on March 1st, 2020, by Alvin Cornista.


Sabu Toyozumi-drums, Erfu

Rick Countryman-alto saxophone

Simon Tan-acoustic bass

Yong Yandsen-tenor saxophone

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Artist Biographies:

"Yoshisaburo "Sabu" Toyozumi (born Tsurumi, Yokohama, 1943) is one of the small group of musical pioneers who comprised the first generation playing free improvisation music in Japan. As an improvising drummer he played and recorded with many of the key figures in Japanese free music including the two principal figures in the first generation, Masayuki Takayanagi and Kaoru Abe from the late 1960s onwards. He is one of a very few of this circle who are still alive and engaged in playing this music today.

Toyozumi features on numerous commercially available recordings with many of the most notable Japanese and international improvising musicians including Derek Bailey, Mototeru Takagi, Misha Mengelberg, Peter Brötzmann, Keiji Haino, Otomo Yoshihide, Tom Cora and Fred Van Hove.

In 1971 he became the only non-American member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians(AACM)). He dedicated his first record as a leader, Sabu - Message to Chicago, to compositions by AACM members, and in 1992 toured and recorded with AACM trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith.

Toyozumi has been instrumental in bringing many European and American improvisers to Japan including Derek Bailey, Misha Mengelberg and Sunny Murray.

In 2005 British improvising guitarist and promoter John Russell arranged a two-day event dedicated to Toyozumi in which the drummer performed in different groupings with 14 musicians from the London improvised music scene including, most notably, Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Phil Minton, John Edwards and Steve Beresford. The Wire described his playing at this time as follows: "He's busy, but there's always space between his notes, and he avoids the flashy technical solution to musical problems. His playing is crisp and dramatic, with a very occasional use of repetition to spark a climax. If it's possible for a drum kit to ask awkward questions, Toyozumi seems to be doing it".

In an interview with Cadence Magazine in 1988 Toyozumi makes clear the importance of his relationship with nature as an influence on his playing and Clive Bell writing in The Wire in 2005 notes "his devotion to the way of Watazumido, the late shakuhachi player and Zen master, whose performances mixed martial arts and music in a bizarre cocktail of discipline and craziness".

In 2009 he returned to London to feature as one of the players in Russell's improvisation festival Fete Quaqua which was recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio 3. He continues to tour widely and in the past year or so has performed in Belgium and France, Chile, Taiwan, England, Philippines and Greece. He also performs from time to time with the legendary Japanese noise group Hijokaidan. Currently he can be found performing on the erhu - a two-stringed Chinese violin - as often as playing the drums."

-Wikipedia (

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"Rick Countryman (January 31, 1957) is an American jazz saxophonist and flautist.

After years attracting little attention as a baritone saxophone player, including an extended sabbatical, Rick made a late-life change to alto sax, at the urging of bassist, Simon Tan. His first recorded session with Simon and Christian Bucher, avant garde drummer from Switzerland, attracted the attention of French label "Improvising Beings" and was released as "Acceptance - Resistance". The recordings received many positive reviews, both in the United States and Europe.

Rick currently now has 9 releases on 4 labels across Europe, Asia, and the United States, including multiple CDs with Japanese improvisational drummer, Sabu Toyozumi, who has made several trips to Manila to perform and record. The music continues to receive positive reviews and airplay. Two recordings were listed in "Gold Dolphy 2018".

Since 2011, Rick has been an active member of the Manila jazz scene. He leads and performs in ensembles on baritone saxophone, alto saxophone, alto flute and bass flute; performing original compositions, as well as free jazz/improvisation, in his own jazz quartets and trios. His style is heavily influenced by Eric Dolphy, Sonny Simmons and the 60s Free Jazz movement. He was a student of Bert Wilson, and considers Michael Bisio and Rick Mandyck early mentors."

-Wikipedia (

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"Simon Leonardo P. Tan (born August 13, 1970) is a Filipino bassist. Beginning classical guitar lessons at age 13 at the Yamaha School of Music stimulated his later exposure to electric guitar and, inevitably, his interest in the electric bass. He studied the contrabass at the University of the Philippines College of Music from 1988 until 1992, then embarked on a professional musical career. His ability as a multi-genre bass player readily caught attention, notably in the pioneering Manila-based blues band, Lampano Alley, led by the Filipino blues singer and recording artist, Binky Lampano. This was followed by his tenure as bassist and composer with the award-winning Philippine jazz group, WDOUJI.

Simon Tan's influences range from rock to classical, blues and jazz. His influences as a bass instrumentalist include Roscoe Beck, Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Charlie Haden, James Jamerson, Marcus Miller, Jaco Pastorius, and John Pattitucci. Notable (Filipino) musical (non-bass) influences include vocalist Binky Lampano and saxophonist Tots Tolentino."

-WikiVisually (

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Yong Yandsen is a Malaysian free improvising saxophonist, known primarily in Southeast Asia and increasingly in Europe. Yandsen runs the Lao Ban record label and also the concert series SPIL. He has a distinctive and expressive voice on the tenor saxophone that is influenced by players like Kaoru Abe, Albert Alyer and John Butcher.

-Squidco 2/24/2021

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track listing:

1. Voices Of The Spirit 18:35

2. Unity Of Opposites 21:29

3. Cosmic Breath 9:41
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"In early 2020, Rick Countryman was reunited with his mentor and friend, Sabu Toyozumi. It was the occasion for several concerts, most often with Simon Tan, some of which were recorded. The one who is the subject of this album was held at the Tago Jazz Cafe in Cubao (Quezon City-Philippines); it was published less than four months later on the legendary Japanese label ChapChap, co-sponsored by free music in the Archipelago champion and discerning music lover, Takeo Suetomi. The latter has in store superb treasures which he tries to distill over time according to his means, which gives weight to his choices in favor of current nuggets.

We thus find in this recording all that makes the interest of the canonical trio Toyozumi-Countryman-Tan, namely the rough hypersensitivity of the sax, the bewitching and always surprising percussions and a bass in pivot self-confident, by no means overwhelmed by the vertigo lavished by the other two traveling companions. They are accompanied this time by a musician not part of the band, the tenor Yong Yandsen, who came from Malaysia and is therefore almost unknown with us. The arrival of this tenor shifts the balances by refocusing the voices towards the brass instruments, which leads the other two to shift their playing. On the other hand, this new melodic power challenges the alto's discourse and brings additional energy to a trio that was not lacking, however, for free jazz that upsets everything in its path.

When the alto touches the bass, when the tenor whistles in the treble, the listener may feel a little lost. The roars of one respond to the hoarseness of the other. The phrases enter into furious interactions. For his part, the master of the barrels does not need to be superlative: the timeliness of his strikes, their dynamics and the renewal of percussive figures make him omnipresent.

"Unity of Opposites" is just a sequel to "Voices of the Spirit". It begins with curious sentences whose origins cannot be clearly discerned: the tenor... or the bow. Both ! A festival of exploration of breaths, whistles, clicks on the tenor, which continues with a breathtaking game of sketches between the alto and the drums, supported by a dark, haunting bass, and punctuated by the tenor with groans, sustained and frayed notes. The latter decides to get out of the woods and the collective incandescence returns. Rick Countryman seems to have crossed a course, as if he had found the wind of the open sea and was now running unhindered. A tenor - drums duo, a solo drums, an alto - drums duo, Sabu Toyozumi is everywhere, imperial.

Figures, materials, inventions are exacerbated on the sax. Yong Yandsen summons Kaoru Abe and Evan Parker. Sabu Toyozumi takes us to the opposite by making music of a speech with holes. Simon Tan frees himself from any support. Rick Countryman frees himself from all attachments and challenges gravity. In this third play, "Cosmic Breath", the group literally propels us into an orgiastic atmosphere.

The pleasure of finding the sorcerer Sabu? Yong Yandsen's catalytic effect? The affirmed emancipation of Simon Tan? The butterfly wing on the other side of the planet, say in Lozère? The fact remains that this convergence makes the creativity and expressiveness of Rick Countryman's speech fly high.

This album is a permanent outpouring, a high frequency geyser. Perhaps this formula of the canonical trio augmented by a strongly catalyzing guest brings new wonders. If this idea appeals to the trio, other treasures will be to be discovered."-Guy Sitruk, Citizen Jazz (translated by Google)

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Asian Improvisation & Jazz
Quartet Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

Other Releases With These Artists:
Recommended & Related Releases:
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Hokusai [VINYL]
Toyozumi, Sabu / Mats Gustafsson
Toyozumi / Tan / Countryman
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Asian Meeting Recordings #1
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Other Recommended Releases:
Toyozumi, Sabu / Rick Countryman / Simon Tan / Isla Antinero / Stella Ignacio
The Search for the Five Senses
(Sol Disk Records)
Toyozumi / Yandsen / Countryman
Future of Change
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Toyozumi, Sabu / Simon Tan / Yong Yandsen / Rick Countryman
Bucher / Tan / Countryman
Blue Spontaneity
Bucher / Tan / Countryman
Satoh, Masahiko / Sabu Toyozumi
The Aiki [VINYL]
Toyozumi / Countryman / Tan
Chasing The Sun [VINYL]
(ChapChap Records)
Toyozumi / Countryman / Montes
Blue Incarnation (Improvisations for Kulintang)
(ChapChap Records)
Toyozumi, Sabu / Rick Countryman
Sol Abstraction
(Sol Disk Records)
Toyozumi, Sabu / Rick Countryman / Simon Tan
Preludes And Prepositions
(ChapChap Records)
Toyozumi, Sabu / Rick Countryman / Simon Tan
The Center of Contradiction
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Toyozumi, Sabu / Rick Countryman / Simon Tan / Stella Ignacio / Isla Antinero
(Self Released)
Bucher / Countryman
(Self Released)
Various Artists: Lao Dan / Rick Countryman / Colin Webster
Saxophone Anatomy
(Armageddon Nova)
Game Of Patience
Trial And Error
(Herbal International)

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