ITARU OKI – Chorui Zukan

Improvising Beings

The unceasing fight against my own illiteracy was recently helped by a dose of good luck. In fact, by absolute chance amidst the thousands of promos, I happened to rescue from oblivion this beautiful solo album from 2014. A trumpeter (doubling on flugelhorn) whose standing in the Japanese history of jazz – and avant derivations thereof – has been confirmed for a long time, Itaru Oki had nevertheless remained totally obscure to your host’s knowledge until now. The 74-year old artist is the son of parents specializing in shakuhachi and koto; the conscious tunefulness and the meditative focus informing the entirety of Chorui Zukan reflects that heritage in full, either in the improvisations or in the rendition of celebrated standards. This unhurried sureness erases whatever hint of residual bitterness might be lodged in the self after a hard day. Every note sounds “sentient”, the acoustic miniaturization of a birth/growth/decay/end cycle; the expansion of the instrumentalist’s chest before each exhalation is nearly visible. Overall, one experiences a sense of warm comfort in spite of the apparent frailty of timbres at the threshold of non-concreteness. And through scrupulous analysis, the possibility of literally entering the very constitution of those mind-balming tones becomes progressively feasible, the listening pleasure growing by the minute for that reason.

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