There are albums that are gripping from the first moment that you listen to them, others have to ripen through repeated listens. "Bendowa", a title that refers to the book by the Japanese zen master Dogen, belongs to the first category. From the very first notes, the trio's approach is clear: lyrical, sensitive, free and creative improvisation. The lead voice is by Nobuyasu Furuya on tenor saxophone, bass clarinet and flute, with Hernani Faustino on double bass, and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums and percussion. The trio is based in Portugal and totally unknown to me. But I'm glad that's no longer the case. Furuya's tone is buttery and warm, even in the fiercest parts of the improvisations, and the Portuguese rhythm section is a perfect complement for the Japanese: their sense of "controlled passion" is just as great, as is their use of silence. In this silence, and in the calm elaboration and patient sense of pace, his apprenticeship as a cook in a zen monastery shows through, yet don't get me wrong, this is not music for meditation: it's as passionate and expressive as you could hope for, full of intensity. This is not the music of an enlightened soul. This is music of an authentic soul, a seeking soul, full of contradictions and tension. This is music of full of soul, full stop. Highly recommended.
Don't be misled by some of the Youtube clips of the trio: the music on the album is much more controlled and sophisticated, and of course with an excellent sound quality.
Listen and download from eMusic.
Buy from Instantjazz.