Natsuki Tamura


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The remarkable individual musicianship of trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii needs little further explanation beyond the many successful creative improvised sessions they have conducted. In this duet performance, their personal husband/wife partnership translates into music with shared vision and values, explicit trust, as well as a need to stretch parameters of contemporary sound heading for new horizons. These tracks go back and forth between spontaneous compositions and written unison lines played to strictest tolerances. The imagery of several titles suggests a level of imagination conjured in dreams, nightmares, or the juxtaposition of natural elements not present in the real world. "Stone Flowers" might be hard to understand cognitively, but you can really hear the obsidian, pensive, silenced quality of a supposed living thing existing in a static though spacious field -- alone. More exaggerated and clearly defined is "Curt Response," a piece that starts as a two-beat sleepwalking excursion going ballistic and hyper anxious. The frantic arpeggios and ripsnorting lines of Fujii's piano during "Infrared" are countermanded by Tamura's trumpet in a crazy rhythm, while the evocative "Spiral Staircase" portrays a chase scene as Fujii stomps down at its zenith. Tamura is an electrifying trumpeter emerging with every recording date as an individualist, producing high drama and even road rage during the short "Tokyo Rush Hour" as he and passenger Fujii play an impressive chopped up unison line. Another concise written idea, the title track is filled with the deft and precise musicianship all performers would kill to employ and enjoy, while the trumpeter is also not afraid to shout out on "Nudibranch." The freer offerings are "Ultraviolet" with pulled zither-like piano strings and percussive techniques offsetting Tamura's vocal-ike horn, and the near-22-minute "Triangle," where brass smears and slurs, a cymbal harmonic overtone, and Fujii's koto-like muffled sounds from held strings and tapped keys allow Tamura to discourse ad infinitum. Where their big band and small ensemble recordings are very impressive, it's good to hear just the two of them, making their own rhythms and bottom lines without a bassist and drummer behind them. They are far from sparse though, using every extended technique in the book to make a duet sound completely orchestral, and unique unto themselves.

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