Japan Concerts

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Mooko was the working title for a short-lived trio comprising Japanese free reed player Akira Sakata, peripatetic bassist Bill Laswell and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson. Sakata had performed with Laswell's Last Exit quartet and the music here draws somewhat from that ethos albeit without the rockish overtones derived from Sonny Sharrock's guitar. Still, for all the free jazz inspired caterwauling from Sakata, who's a capable if monochromatic player, Laswell takes many opportunities to lay down thick, funky basslines jauntily matched by Jackson. The pieces are somewhat more composed than those with Last Exit, presumably by Sakata (though, typically for a Celluloid release, no information is provided) but they still manage to meander a bit. Those that work best, however, are the less thematically oriented ones which give Sakata a chance to let loose and, at the same time, don't allow the rhythm team to fall into predictable patterns. Constrained by melodies, he appears about as comfortable as Peter Brotzmann would be in similar circumstances. Combined with his non-varying approach, this makes for a set that begins fresh but grows increasingly tiring as it goes on. There's some nice enough individual playing here (and Sakata's rough singing on the final cut is pretty impressive), but the group aspect degenerates too often into a lazy kind of jam to make it recommendable to all but completists.

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