Masashi Harada

The Soul with Longing for Dim Hills and Faint Horizons

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Masashi Harada's previous recording with Mat Maneri was a trio in which he played the drums. The Soul with Longing for Dim Hills and Faint Horizons (a title taken from W.B. Yeats, like all the track titles on this album) features him at the piano, in seven duets with the viola player, recorded on February 15, 2001. Harada and Maneri go back a long way -- they were performing together in Joe Maneri's groups as early as 1985 -- but this is the first of their recordings in which Harada is playing the piano. Understandably, the session is dominated by a strong sense of connivance, of unspoken understanding. The album starts off in a relatively calm mood, piano and viola weaving improvised lyrical dialogues that aim at both heart and mind. About halfway through, things get rougher. "Quiet Wanders Laughing" provides a highlight, Maneri delivering a strong performance, his bow coercing unnatural sounds from the viola, all the while pushing the music toward new spiritual heights as the pianist vocalizes his obvious delight. In contrast, "Mans Own Resinous Heart Had Fed" sounds like Harada decided that it was time to pounce on the piano for all it's worth, ignoring Maneri's tugs toward quieter pastures, providing a rare case of miscommunication. The concluding "I Talked About an Apparition" comes back to more balanced dynamics, for another ten-minute round of restless free improvisation. This album is not among Harada or Maneri's finest ones, but it is not redundant and has its fair share of strong moments to offer.

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