RAYMOND MACDONALD / SAKOTO FUJII / NEIL DAVIDSON / NATSUKI TAMURA / TOM BANCROFT – Cities

Nu-Jazz

MacDonald (saxophone) and Davidson (guitar) met Fujii (piano) and Tamura (trumpet) at the Centre For The Contemporary Arts in Glasgow in 2005, drummer Bancroft acting as the percussive link between the pairs. The technical combinations are surprisingly diversified from a piece to another. The initial cyclical jumpiness of “Navigation” and the calm rarefaction of “Parallel Shapes” are but short introductions to a string of distinct images that, however, appear as entirely corresponding. Openings towards a roominess nearly approaching ECM-derived moods are not absent (“Overload” a fulgent example in that sense, Fujii and Tamura generating austere waves of acoustic entrancement). “A Strange Prediction” is somewhat inexplicable, played as it is around scattered piano chords and silently accurate choices of involvement from the other instruments, the trumpet intermittently caught in autistic replication of a fragment.

“Two Blocks East” features an odd concurrence of instrumental nonattendance and call-and-response desirousness in what’s perhaps the only concession to literal EAI, before summoning forth the regular timbres in all connotations, shifting the focus on increasingly angrier free jazz until a quiet ending. “Into The Diversion” makes good use of power-driven appliances à la Rowe on Davidson’s axe then grows in intensity, MacDonald adopting a confrontational stance through his arresting voice. After the tonelessly brief, quirky “Oxygenitis”, “How Did I Get Here” meshes Schweizer-esque instances and guitar-based deliberateness in total coolness, Bancroft suggesting hypothetical pulses in the background prior to the sax remaining alone again. “Euphoria” concludes the program with a pinch of sadness, once more placing Fujii and Tamura’s fragility at the basis of the improvisation.

Throughout this brilliant album the participants can be seen reinforcing their personalities under the dim yet inextinguishable light of collective artistic integrity. Please rescue Cities from an unmerited anonymity.

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