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.
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