Saturday, September 26, 2009

Raymond MacDonald - Cities (Nu-Jazz Europe, 2009) ****½

More than any other art form, music has the possibility to express anything that goes beyond the rational and the logical, which makes it of course hard to describe in words, but which makes it all the more valuable to experience. Some musicians actively seek this experience by breaking patterns, anticipations, predictability and creating contradictions, illogical forms, new sounds. In this sense the Japanese couple Satoko Fujii on piano and Natsuki Tamura on trumpet form the perfect match for British saxophonist Raymond MacDonald, guitarist Neil Davidson and drummer Tom Bancroft, for an improvised recording that took place in Glasgow in 2005 in front of an enthusiastic audience. The interaction of these five musicians is truly fantastic, even if they rarely all play together at the same time, with duets and trios actually dominating. They create the kind of sound paintings that are incredibly rich with detail, with broad patterns that are somehow familiar and yet not quite so : the pieces can be meditative and melancholy (especially the last track "Euforia"), but are equally disorienting, yet always in a gentle and subtle manner, allowing the audience to fully participate in the experience of the organic, hypnotic, animal-like, or just hard-to-identify sounds. And as is so often the case with good music: switch off your brain and let yourself be led into this world of melodyless lyricism, of serious fun, of light-hearted depth, of solid abstraction, of smooth weirdness, of unfamiliar warmth, of exquisite delicacy.

Buy from Nu-Jazz Europe or from CDBaby (with sound samples).

© stef

1 comment:

Jason Crane said...

Although I haven't heard this particular record, I've heard everything else that Satoko et al have put out this year. I'm amazed at the consistency, inventiveness and sheer amount of music that she's involved with each year. And Natsuki's trumpet playing really grabs me.

Thanks for the review (and all the great reviews).

Jason