Wadada Leo Smith / Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii / Ikue Mori — Aspiration
(Libra 204-043, 2017, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-10-15
The success of free improvisation, at least from the standpoint of the listener, pretty much comes down to how much time the musicians are airborne versus how much time they are just trying to get something organized and off the ground. The former can be breathtaking and very satisfying, the latter can be very tedious and tiresome. Of course the musicians are always having a great time, regardless, but I’m only talking about the experience as a listener. The four musicians involved here all have amazing pedigrees. Satoko Fujii leads several ensembles of all sizes in japan, New York, Berlin, and elsewhere. She is a skilled and and prolific composer, an outstanding pianist and has over 80 releases to her credit, solo, with various groups, and in collaborations. She’s also the glue that holds everything together on the purely improvisational recording at hand. Trumpeters Natsuki Tamura and Wadada Leo Smith are both highly skilled and accomplished jazz players, brilliant composers and have dozens of releases to prove it. Ikue Mori is an electronic innovator who has co-led a number of ensembles and collaborated with innovative players all over the world, including Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, and John Zorn. Aspiration is a collection of six lengthy improvs, and for the most part succeeds, but a lot of time is spent drifting around looking for things that work. They always get there, sooner or later, and it’s always great to hear the two trumpet virtuosos blowing out their bold, spontaneous ideas, each in their own style. Mori's contribution is a little more subdued but it’s there if one listens closely. Like all free improv, one gets a little of everything here, and with that, patience and diligence as a listener will reward.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more