Friday, August 31, 2012

In review--Free Cat Jazz


Gato Libre
Forever
Libra Records

The Japanese jazz quartet Gato Libre weds clear trumpet tones with global arty sounds on Forever.  On the opener, Moor, Natsuki Tamura’s horn recalls Fellini’s La Strada (the circus horn scenes), while Satoko Fujii’s accordion travels from distorted art jazz to lyrical Italian.  Kazuhiko Tsumura’s guitar and the late Norikatsu Koreyasu’s bass waver on the fringes, tentatively, sliding in words between the trumpet and accordion’s conversation.  The descriptor of global jazz certainly hits the mark, showing off the talents of these well-traveled players.  However, this is not a CD I would pull out when I feel tense.  The music here works best when the listener is already in a relaxed state of mind.

Court opens with shy accordion chords playing hide and seek.  Then the guitar and trumpet sneak in creating a situation of tense anticipation.  The musicians tease us with minimalistic playing in a Spartan arrangement with the trumpet carrying a lyrical melody.  On the most stunning track, Waseda, Tsumura’s guitar sounds lush in a duet with Tamura’s trumpet, sounding oddly Spanish.  However, the titular track also offers a sparkling respite with the accordion recalling Astor Piazzolla at times.  On Japan, the musicians create an impression of a placid lake while portraying emptiness performed on a bowed bass and lamenting accordion.

Even though this recording is not my cup of tea, the musicians supply us with a few sublime moments, while showing us the versatility of accordion, guitar, bass, and trumpet as they play these instruments outside the box.  No doubt, this is pioneering work by ambitiously talented musicians, but my ears are tuned to a different drummer.  Still, Forever is worth checking out.

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