JAZU: Jazz from Japan. Review. Ryo Hatakeyama. Mosaic Structure PDF Stampa E-mail
Scritto da Nico Conversano   
Lunedì 25 Febbraio 2019 00:00

JAZU: Jazz from Japan. Review. Ryo Hatakeyama. Mosaic Structure

Forward Records - FRW-2365 - 2018

Ryo Hatakeyama: double bass
Ryosuke Asai: alto sax
Yuko Yoshida: piano
Yujiro Nakamura: drums

The role of a bass player inside a band is mostly considered to be as a tillerman who is given the task of keeping control of the direction to follow in order to allow a comfortable trip to his crew (in this case, his fellow musicians), without losing sight on the aim that has been set (the basic rhythmic pulse).
Bass player Ryo Hatakeyama, in his debut release as a leader, does even more than this: he charts also the courses, composing almost completely the pieces of the album, while searching for a destination coinciding with his personal music expression.
Native of Kobe, but trained in Berklee College of Music in Boston, Hatakeyama has recently decided that the time was ripe to shift his role from sideman to headliner of a quartet dispenser of a faceted, bop-oriented jazz that the bass player tributes in its most modern forms. Hatakeyama's compositions reveal themselseves to be multilayered and provided with many interpretation levels: a music endowed with subtle compositional solutions that make the listening always exciting and foreshadowing of new discoveries.
For instance, Two in One, opening the album, gets started from a bass line in 6/4 which alternates in cicle with a 4/4 taken at a double speed. In its central part, instead, the solos are developed on a structure that keeps the rotation between the two meters, but in which the 4/4 is played at the same time, thus generating a sense of rhythmic distension.
The hopping and humorous theme of Swanging uses a more ordinary 4/4 moving through an odd number of measures to which Hatakeyama imbeds an unexpected sense of accelleration.
The illusion of a pendulum, in the homonym piece (Pendulum), is evoked by an hypnotic 3/4 whose rhythmic backing is elegant as much as Yoshida's pianism, made of rarefied elements and delicate suspensions. Also Hatakeyama's solo acts in Dance of Thelonious and at the beginning of Autumn Leaves disclose a knowledge of his instrument rich of stilistic references and expressive freedom.
Crucial for the fulfilment of the album is the clear and sharp sound of Asai's alto sax that moves skillfully amidst the melodic lines written by the leader, exhalting their sly features and spiky progression. In the standard Autumn Leaves, in particular, the saxophone player demonstrates his remarkable improvisational dexterity throwing himself in a daring solo animated by a sincere, vehement passion.
Both Eric The Dolphy and Dark Gloomy Room manifest themselves as always changeable in the rhythmic subdivision of their main choruses constructed upon interesting bass frames, while the conventional 4/4 of quiet Hands brings back a certain regularity in the structures.
After Tower of Babel, mostly centered on speed changes of the same pattern, and the following Phantom, an ethereal composition where the written form dissolves into a "free"-like, open improvisation, it's the closing titletrack that embodies the sum of Hatakeyama's music signature: an heterogeneous interlacing of odd- numbered measures, time changes, accelerations and sudden slowdowns.
The extended Mosaic Structure's chorus starts up with a sequence of 4/4 and 5/4, briefly shifting to 2/4, then moving to 4/4, followed by a fast 3/4 that comes back to 2/4 before ending with 4/4: a true rhythmic puzzle of prominent compositional refinement.
The balance between form and improvisation and the inspiration that enhances Hatakeyama's writing, together with an excellent playing of all the members involved, make of his debut release a work destined in the future to become a new classic in Japanese jazz discography.

Related Links:
"Mosaic Structure" album trailer: youtube.com/watch?v=x0Obmkrxrmg
Ryo Hatakeyama homepage: ryohatakeyama.com

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