Natsuki Tamura/Satoko Fujii: Clouds

If you’re looking for toe-tapping pipe-and-slipper jazz, forget about Clouds (Libra) by the Japanese husband-and-wife team of Natsuki Tamura and Satoko Fujii. This free-improv session for trumpet and piano is beautifully played and recorded, and recalls the monumental Kenny Wheeler/Paul Bley duets. Tamura has worked to develop a highly personal sound, employing various new techniques and tonal resources, including growls, flutters, squirts and split tones. On the opening atmospheric “Cirrus,” Fujii plays prepared piano and reaches inside to pluck and strum the strings. She and Tamura end up speaking a private language, a kind of musical word salad. It’s mysterious, haunting and startling, and these two know how to play the space between the notes. The 16-minute “Cumulonimbus” is spare and sensitive, with dramatic gestures, spontaneous shifts and dynamic contrasts. Some of this music has a tonal center, even if there is no real key. “Stratus” features long tones played by solo trumpet, while “Cirrocumulus” is stately solo piano. The ominous “Stratocumulus,” with its rolling thunder in the bottom register, is like a storm coming in from across the lake.