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Ken Field/Katsui Yuji/Kido Natsuki/Simuzu Kazuto: Tokyo in F

The concept is risky enough: Take an American saxophonist, and have him perform spontaneous music in a Japanese club with three Japanese musicians whom the American has never met. The only preconceived notion is to begin in the key of F (in deference to the club in which they performed: In F). While the idea of musicians improvising freely without any advance preparation is not new, it is still rare, and the results are sometimes spotty. Here, the cultural and linguistic barriers force the instrumentalists to communicate exclusively through music. The surprisingly successful results from the two long sets are fully documented on Tokyo in F.

There is an enchanting chamber feel throughout, due in part to Field’s lilting flute and alto sax, the unobtrusive, yet highly creative strings (Katsui Yuji on violin and Kido Natsuki on electric guitar), and a compelling performance on piano by Shimizu Kazuto. Together, the quartet makes some beautiful music that sounds fully integrated, with one section segueing to another, leading to a seemingly logical flow. The violin and alto, in particular, appear as virtual soul mates, anticipating each other’s steps. There are sections that feature energetic spurts, but the primary focus is on the sound rather than galvanizing eruptions and few, if any, moments lag.

Originally Published