Reviews that mention Tatsu Aoki

February 12, 2011

Lest We Forget:

Malachi Favors (1927-2004)
By Ken Waxman

Trickster to the end, when bassist Malachi Favors Maghostut died of pancreatic cancer in early 2004, his daughter revealed that he had actually born 10 years earlier than his previously accepted 1937 birth date. In a way that concluding jape was perfectly in character for the versatile bassist who from the mid-1960s until his death was a vital component of the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC). The quintet proved that theatricism in the form of face paint, costumes, so-called “little instruments” and stylistic turns could be the source of profound and searching modern jazz – or if you prefer Great Black Music Ancient to the Future. MORE

December 17, 2009

Fred Anderson Quartet

Live at the Velvet Lounge Volume III
Asian Improv AIR 0074

Fred Anderson

Staying in the Game

Engine e029

Fred Anderson Trio

Birthday Live 2000

Asian Improv AIR “Official Bootleg”

Fred Anderson

21st Century Chase

Delmark DE 589

Consistency of expression is what has characterized the playing of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson over the years. Furthermore, unlike many other musicians, there hasn’t been a subsequent lessening of his powers as he ages. As a matter of fact, now that he’s reached the venerable age of 80, his improvisational skills are at an exalted peak. Listen to these CDs for proof. They were recorded not only at Anderson’s 80th Birthday Bash, but when he was a comparative youngster of 79, 78 and even 71. MORE

December 17, 2009

Fred Anderson Trio

Birthday Live 2000
Asian Improv AIR “Official Bootleg”

Fred Anderson Quartet

Live at the Velvet Lounge Volume III

Asian Improv AIR 0074

Fred Anderson

Staying in the Game

Engine e029

Fred Anderson

21st Century Chase

Delmark DE 589

Consistency of expression is what has characterized the playing of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson over the years. Furthermore, unlike many other musicians, there hasn’t been a subsequent lessening of his powers as he ages. As a matter of fact, now that he’s reached the venerable age of 80, his improvisational skills are at an exalted peak. Listen to these CDs for proof. They were recorded not only at Anderson’s 80th Birthday Bash, but when he was a comparative youngster of 79, 78 and even 71. MORE

December 17, 2009

Fred Anderson

21st Century Chase
Delmark DE 589

Fred Anderson Quartet

Live at the Velvet Lounge Volume III

Asian Improv AIR 0074

Fred Anderson

Staying in the Game

Engine e029

Fred Anderson Trio

Birthday Live 2000

Asian Improv AIR “Official Bootleg”

Consistency of expression is what has characterized the playing of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson over the years. Furthermore, unlike many other musicians, there hasn’t been a subsequent lessening of his powers as he ages. As a matter of fact, now that he’s reached the venerable age of 80, his improvisational skills are at an exalted peak. Listen to these CDs for proof. They were recorded not only at Anderson’s 80th Birthday Bash, but when he was a comparative youngster of 79, 78 and even 71. MORE

December 17, 2009

Fred Anderson

Staying in the Game
Engine e029

Fred Anderson Quartet

Live at the Velvet Lounge Volume III

Asian Improv AIR 0074

Fred Anderson Trio

Birthday Live 2000

Asian Improv AIR “Official Bootleg”

Fred Anderson

21st Century Chase

Delmark DE 589

Consistency of expression is what has characterized the playing of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson over the years. Furthermore, unlike many other musicians, there hasn’t been a subsequent lessening of his powers as he ages. As a matter of fact, now that he’s reached the venerable age of 80, his improvisational skills are at an exalted peak. Listen to these CDs for proof. They were recorded not only at Anderson’s 80th Birthday Bash, but when he was a comparative youngster of 79, 78 and even 71. MORE

August 19, 2009

Jonathan Chen

Jonathan Chen Orchestra
Asian Improv AIR 0071

Graham Clark & Stephen Grew

Improvisations Series One

Gas gcimprov1

Although the instrument most identified with traditional Western art music, over the past 100 years the violin’s range and timbre have been extended, with it increasingly taking on new sonic roles.

This change is illuminated on these duo sessions – one American and one British. While each has much to recommend it – and both take as a starting point the discordant free-jazz fiddling of players such as Billy Bang and Leroy Jenkins – there’s a lot more than separates them besides instrumentation. Here Manchester-based violinist Graham Clark is partnered by the piano of Lancaster’s Stephen Grew, while Middletown, Conn.-based violinist Jonathan Chen’s so-called orchestra is limited to himself and one of Chicago’s busiest and most versatile bass players, Tatsu Aoki. MORE

August 19, 2009

Graham Clark & Stephen Grew

Improvisations Series One
Gas gcimprov1

Jonathan Chen

Jonathan Chen Orchestra

Asian Improv AIR 0071

Although the instrument most identified with traditional Western art music, over the past 100 years the violin’s range and timbre have been extended, with it increasingly taking on new sonic roles.

This change is illuminated on these duo sessions – one American and one British. While each has much to recommend it – and both take as a starting point the discordant free-jazz fiddling of players such as Billy Bang and Leroy Jenkins – there’s a lot more than separates them besides instrumentation. Here Manchester-based violinist Graham Clark is partnered by the piano of Lancaster’s Stephen Grew, while Middletown, Conn.-based violinist Jonathan Chen’s so-called orchestra is limited to himself and one of Chicago’s busiest and most versatile bass players, Tatsu Aoki. MORE

August 13, 2009

The Miyumi Project

Live In Poland
Southport S-SSD-0125

Sociologically as well as musically notable, this live session captures the excitement engendered by the performance of a Chicago-based Asian-American ensemble at a Polish music festival. This is more than a clichéd tale about music’s universality. For here are 800 people in a small Eastern European city clapping along to sounds produced not only by the familiar Western instruments of saxophonists Francis Wong and Mwata Bowden, violinist Jonathan Chen and bassist Tatsu Aoki, but those of Hide Yoshihashi, Amy Homma and Melody Takata – traditional Japanese taiko drums that have no musical scales or devices for controlling the sound. MORE

May 22, 2006

THE GIFT

Live at Sangha
Bmadish Records Gift002-2

JASON HAWANG/FRANCIS WONG/TATSU AOKI
Graphic Evidence
Asian Improv AIR0066

Four years and a set of assumptions separate these two dates, which display two views of violinist Jason (Kao) Hwang.

Superficially the Energy Music produced by the fiddler, trumpeter Roy Campbell and drummer William Hooker on LIVE AT SANGHA could be heard as Hwang’s electric side. The more meditative GRAPHIC EVIDENCE, which finds him partnered by soprano saxophonist Francis Wong and bassist Tatsu Aoki plus Wu Man on pipa on two tracks, can be heard as Hwang’s acoustic side. Actually they’re two sides of the same coin – an American one. MORE

April 10, 2006

ROSCOE MITCHELL/TATSU AOKI

First Look Chicago Duos
Southport S-SSD 0112

CARLO ACTIS DATO & BALDO MARTINEZ
Folklore Imaginario
Leo CD LR 437

Like evaluating a foreign art film and a Hollywood blockbuster in a similar fashion just because both appear on celluloid, these string-and-reed duos are superficially analogous. Yet by the time the imaginary final frames appear you realize that the four musicians involved, despite using the more-or-less-same instrumentation and the same medium, have created two radically different productions. The irony for some is that the Europeans on FOLKLORE IMAGINARIO have come up with the buoyant, in-your-face, aurally Technicolor product, with the equivalent of the spills, chills and thrills of a mainstream film. In contrast, the sounds created by the Americans on FIRST LOOK CHICAGO DUOS are as low-key and meltingly chiaroscuro as the screen images of an independent, usually foreign language production. MORE

March 1, 2004

FRED ANDERSON

Back At The Velvet Lounge
Delmark DG-549

He was a late starter when it came to a recording, but now in his early seventies, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson turns out new CDs with regularity of a lunchtime chef at a down-home pancake house. Like that cook, Anderson’s stack of hotcakes are unpretentious, filling, and of uniformly high quality.

Anderson, who has owned, managed and played at his Velvet Lounge club in Chicago’s South Loop for more than 21 years, has dealings with the public on the par with any pancake spot manager. While the jazz he plays at the Lounge is consistently piping hot, he’s enough of as businessman to often vary the menu slightly. MORE

December 22, 2003

WU MAN & TATSU AOKI

Posture of Reality
Asian Improv AIR 0065

SHOKO HIKAGE & JONATHAN SEGEL
GEN
Spool LINE SPL 122

What exactly constitutes so-called ethnic music, or for that matter, ethnic instruments, are the questions raised by these two sessions.

Each features one American musician playing a Eurocentric string instrument -- the violin in one case and double bass in the other -- partnered with one non-American --in both cases Oriental -- musician playing a traditional instrument. Yet while Chinese-born Wu Man may play pipa on one disc and Japanese-born Shoko Hikage koto on the other, the resulting sounds are pretty far away from those found on the average disc shoved into the record store World Music ghetto. MORE

November 3, 2003

DENNIS GONZÁLEZ NEW SOUTHERN QUINTET

Old Time Revival
Entropy Stereo Records ESR 014

JEFF CHAN
In Chicago
Asian Improv Records AIR 0063

Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM) exemplar, and its southern roots, underlines the creativity of the combos on both these discs.

Although only three of the nine players involved are AACM members -- the late trumpeter Ameen Muhammad, bassist Malachi Favors and drummer Alvin Fielder -- the cooperative archetype that the Chicago association feels must be mixed with creative improvised music is on show each time. MORE

July 28, 2003

FAMOUDOU DON MOYE/TATSU AOKI

A Symphony of Cities
Southport/Asian Improv S-SSD 0096

AEC and AI provides the cross cultural unpinning of this rhythmically sophisticated and lengthy -- almost 72 minute -- CD.

To spell it out, percussionist Famoudou Don Moye, best-known for his work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, is a longtime member of the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, which has always promoted an African-American view of jazz. Meanwhile bassist Tatsu Aoki, his partner here, is an organizing force within the national Asian Improv movement that identifies Asian-American contributions to the music. MORE

June 30, 2003

ICP ORCHESTRA

Oh, My Dog
ICP 040

MYUMI PROJECT BIG BAND
Rooted: Origins of Now
Southport/Asian Improv S-SSD 0092

Performing with a mid-sized band of improvisers is widespread because it provides freedom both for the composer(s) and the players. Nine plus instruments often provide enough variations to illustrate a writer’s vision; and with fewer than 12 bandmates, musicians can contribute much more than if they’re mere section placeholders.

Small big bands can also be used to express radically different concepts as these skilled CDs demonstrate. Together for almost 30 years, the Dutch ICP Orchestra has featured many different soloists over time, but with laissez faire direction coming from pianist/composer Misha Mengelberg, there’s a consistency there. Tatsu Aoki’s Myumi Project, on the other hand, is mostly a recording ensemble, put together to give flesh to the bassist/composer’s musical portraits of Asian American improvisers in particular and Asians in North America in general. MORE

April 14, 2003

TRIOLID

Ur lamento
Potlatch P202

AOKI/HUNSINGER/JARMAN Trio
Melungeon Records MR-0003

Constituting an improvising trio with the double bass the only real rhythmic instrument can be a dangerous strategy. Yet it’s a testimony to aptitude of the players involved in these two discs that neither seems to suffer from this approach.

More pointedly, the American Aoki-Hunsinger-Jarman group and the French Triolid couldn’t be more dissimilar. With personnel that includes two multi-woodwind players plus a bassist, the Yanks end up with a sound that is organic, naturalistic and has non-Western echoes. The Gallic creations are, on the other hand, reserved, mechanized and futuristic. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that the second trio is made up of a bassist, a clarinetist and a third musician who moves between theremin and computer. MORE

December 24, 2001

FRED ANDERSON

On The Run
Delmark DE-534

FRED ANDERSON
Dark Day
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 218 CD

Good things come to those who wait is an expression that was never has more currency than when it’s applied to the career of brawny Chicago tenor sax stylist Fred Anderson. Anderson, was practically unknown and definitely under-documented for almost three decades after his recording debut on Joseph Jarman’s SONG FOR in 1966.

Today that’s all changed. He practically doesn’t have the time to play at and manage his bar, The Velvet Lounge, in Chicago’s near South Side, so busy is he travelling in North America and Europe and working with his own bands and other members of the improv community. He even has a personal manager. MORE

November 19, 2001

THE VANDERMARK 5

Acoustic Machine
Atavistic ALP128CD

JEB BISHOP TRIO/QUARTET
Afternoons
Okka Disk OD 12039

TRICOLOR
Nonparticipant + Milk
Atavistic ALP131CD

Although most of the interest in The Vandermark 5 (V5) has, justifiably, been concentrated on indefatigable saxophonist Ken Vandermark, his MacArthur fellowship and his successful effort to bring jazz to the indie-rock crowd, the quintet has now become an incubator and showcase for two other important players.

During his time with the V5, Jeb Bishop has gone from being former rock guitarist who happens to also play trombone, to a rapidly maturing, individualist 'bone stylist. This is made even clearer on his solo discs like AFTERNOONS. What's more, his approach as well as Vandermark's are made that much more distinctive by the forceful bass playing of Kent Kessler, who has been an important part of the experimental Chicago scene since he joined Hal Russell's NRG Ensemble in the early 1980s. MORE

June 2, 2000

TATSU AOKI

The Miyumi Project
Southport/Asian Improv S-SSD 0078

Despite all the experiments attempting to fuse Jazz with other musics, only a handful have attempted what may be the most logical partnering of all -- mixing African- American and Asian-American sounds. But this fine CD sets out to redress the situation.

Like other musicians traversing the borders between the two -- most notably Jason Hwang in New York, Jon Jang and Francis Wong on the West Coast -- bassist Tatsu Aoki emphasizes the two sounds' shared percussive tradition. Not that he merely shoves the two together like slightly uneven jigsaw puzzle pieces, though. Since Aoki --Japanese-born, but Chicago-based -- regularly works with such masters of the tradition as veteran saxophonist Fred Anderson he's not afraid to add a patina of experimentation on top of the other sounds.

MORE