Nobuki Takamen

Live at the Iridium

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Nobuki Takamen's third CD is his first for a widely distributed label. Like the guitarist's earlier efforts, this disc focuses on his originals, though recorded live at the Iridium. Joining him are three fine musicians: pianist Hitoshi Kanda, bassist John Lenis, and drummer Yutaka Uchida. Takamen's "Strolling in Downtown" is a breezy tune that needs lyrics; his spacious, clean lines likely had people humming its catchy theme on the way out of the club. "14-1" is a hip uptempo bop vehicle with a few Afro-Cuban interludes thrown in. "Smile" is not the old Charlie Chaplin song but a laid-back, hopeful ballad penned by the leader. "One Big Shot" practically explodes with its hard bop energy, while the understated "Union Square Nobels" is a piano-less affair, focusing on the leader's intimate guitar. Takamen is a talented guitarist, though including one or two familiar songs might have helped listeners better assess his abilities.

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