Glenn Horiuchi

Kenzo's Vision

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The late Glenn Horiuchi was a fine and probably under-sung free jazz pianist whose collaborators included a great many of the musicians associated with the West Coast scene in general, and Asian Improv Records in particular. Horiuchi combined a formidable piano technique with Japanese instruments like the shamisen and erhu; he was also possessed of a goofy sense of humor, as his spontaneous vocal eruptions on this album's title track prove. This record in many ways epitomizes the West Coast approach to jazz-based free improvisation. The volume is fairly restrained, the not infrequent humor simultaneously dry and overt. The music tends to be rather sparse -- Horiuchi's gestures are short and frequently in direct response to something played by one of his fellow improvisers. It's intelligent music, if somewhat diffuse. There's little of the concentrated catharsis that one is likely to hear in the work of a pianist like Borah Bergman or Matthew Shipp. The music doesn't seem to develop in a linear fashion; it progresses in fits and starts. Much of has the effect of aural collage. The players are well-chosen; Francis Wong is a strong, John Coltrane-inspired tenor saxophonist who plays with imagination and energy. William Roper holds down the bass parts on tuba; the big horn's mellow constancy provides an effective underpinning to the stringed instruments played by Horiuchiand Wong. Jeanette Wrate is color-sensitive; her contributions are tasteful and appropriate. While the record as a whole is not an overwhelming success -- some of the silences seem to betray indecision, for example -- it is an interesting and somewhat offbeat take on the free jazz idiom.

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