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Kenichi Tsunoda Big Band: For J.G.

The dedication by Tsunoda reveals his personal pantheon of jazz giants: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Japanese giant Toru Takemitsu. The highly disciplined band that Tsunoda has kept together since 1990 confronts them with a gusto and quest for perfection not heard since Supersax.

All the arrangements are by Tsunoda, and he knows how far he can drive the four trumpets, four trombones and five saxes. Gillespie’s “Be Bop” is taken at Mach 3–and “For Takemitsu #2” is even faster. There is a sense of disbelief in hearing all the sections display such impeccable intonation, and the same awe is felt hearing soloists executing logical ideas backed by such rarefied air. At a more civilized tempo, two soprano saxophonists, Atsushi Ikeda and Yuichi Inoue, exchange eights quite cleverly during “My Favorite Things.” And if there can be a humorous tempo, how about “Shiny Stockings” in 3/4! It works–and swings.

Originally Published