Even the most faithful fans of trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii didn't see this one coming. Tamura's fourth album under his own name is not what you'd expect from this avant-garde jazzman. Taking a cue from his wife's then-recent flirting with progressive rock (the Satoko Fujii Quartet recordings and Toh-Kichi, her stunning live duo with Ruins' Tatsuya Yoshida), the trumpeter has electrified his trumpet, transmogrified his writing into a raucous form of extreme fusion, and asked Fujii to make her recording debut on synthesizer! In the eyes of jazz purists, these are the ingredients of heresy and, truth be told, Hada Hada does feel like a huge transgression of rules. It has that determined attitude verging on vandalism. Tamura displays the energy of a man who has to prove everything anew. The quartet is completed by guitarist Takayuki Kato and drummer Takaaki Masuko. The album has been mastered by Tatsuya Yoshida, who seems to have made a point of bringing out Masuko's ferocious pounding and Fujii's portamento-heavy chord clusters. The opening title track sets the mood immediately: processed trumpet lines, infernal rock racket, odd shifts in time signature, and free-form episodes. "Incident" and "Explorer," both first featured on the Satoko Fujii Quartet's first CD, Vulcan, are given new readings that multiply their energy tenfold. "Utage" is pure mayhem, with synth, electric guitar, and trumpeted electronics clashing over Masuko's relentless free drumming. This album is not for the faint of heart nor for the explorer of subtle textures. If Frank Zappa's saying that "jazz is not dead, it just smells funny" holds any truth, then Tamura is beating the hell out of its stinking body. A clear case of love it or hate it.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture