Natsuki Tamura: White and Blue

White & Blue is a series of wide-open, freely improvised trumpet-drum duets led by Satoko Fujii’s husband, Natsuki Tamura. Aaron Alexander handles the traps on the other half. Although the rounded, half-valved smears of Lester Bowie and the brittle lyricism of Don Cherry are evident in Tamura’s performance, the most dominant influence is Leo Smith. Between his the spells of silence and the artful display of extended technique, from high-pitched squeals to lip-sputtering blurts, Tamura is clearly in thrall of Smith’s mix of rhythm and coloristic abstraction.

Percussionist Jim Black and Alexander manipulate their kits likewise, searching for texture and timbre more than beats, but ultimately the recording doesn’t hold together. It rarely seems like Tamura and the drummers find any common ground, and while there are plenty of exciting, if fleeting, moments scattered throughout, the album fails to gel.