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Saturday, December 23, 2023

Kris Tiner & Tatsuya Nakatani - The Magic Room (Epigraph Records, 2023)

By Stef Gijssels

In 2012 trumpeter Kris Tiner and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani released "Ritual Inscription", with Jeremy Drake on guitar. That's a long time ago. We find Tiner and Nakatani back on this excellent album "The Magic Room", literally the 'vacant top floor of a historic Woolworth's building in downtown Bakersfield', and more figuratively, the space where this magical duet is taking place. Tiner is a brilliant trumpet player, known for his collaborations with Jeff Kaiser and Vinny Golia, but also with his Empty Cage Quartet and the Tin/Bag duo. Like Tiner, Tatsuya Nakatani can also be described as a creative master of his instrument, someone who not only refined the art of percussion to a different level, but who also created his own instruments to generate the sounds he likes to hear. 

Both artists use the size of the room to get the full resonance and space their music requires. Nakatani uses an astonishing array of small percussion next to his drum kit to create a relentless and intense foundation and even lyrical support and guidance for Tiner's melancholy tones. The album is one of intense calm and precision, using the power of their instruments and musical vision focused on the perfection of the delivery, the clarity of the sound, the emotional depth, the quality of the listening. When you hear the beauty of their intimate co-creation, it's the result of the long experience of both musicians to perform in duo settings over the past years, as if their musical voice can only come properly to the fore when starting from a very direct human interaction. 

Tiner's tone is unusually warm, welcoming and deeply felt. Remarkably, also Nakatani's percussion skills allows for heart-piercing moments of emotional distress, by using his kobo-bow, a bow specifically designed by him to give a different level of power than when using a bow produced for strings. The great third performer on this album is the space of the room, and both musicians use it not only for purposes of resonance, but also as its presence of silence, the space between the sounds, the emptyness that provides depth and perspective. 

Last year, they also released another duo album, called "Dagny", in Japan, but I could not get a copy to compare it, but you can listen to it on Youtube. The sound on this one is of a totally different nature. 

This one is absolutely excellent. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp


Lee said...

Fantastic album. Great to see it highlighted here at year's end!