March 10, 2017
Shinjuku Pit Inn
Kasper Tranberg—cornet, trumpet
Before the quartet reunited for this Japan tour, Tranberg and Minami decided to just play—no prep, no practice, no plan. The result at Pit Inn’s show was two hours of intense, unmediated and gloriously free music. “The musicians just played” might be the best description, but inside that simple statement, the quartet’s music was complex, experienced, and filled with abstract concepts and deep feeling.
The two one-hour sets of jazz—with no break, just a constant fluidity–provided gripping moments, gentle minimalism and a constantly improvised approach to not just music, but to sound. The musicians gave themselves the freedom to say what they liked, and to support each other by accenting and enhancing whatever unexpected direction was taken. They responded to each other’s directions by adding their own suggestions, hints, and opinions, creating new musical tensions and resolutions one after another.
Even in the free-est of free jazz groups, one musician appears to be the leader, but with the quartet here, along with the great addition of Greve, no single person lead and no one followed—or (again) everyone “just” played. The musicians interacted in constantly shifting match-ups–drums with bass, bass with trumpet, piano with sax, sax with drums and bass–and each of the combinations produced something startling and new, with new sounds and techniques. Tranberg’s playing, especially, was full, sharp and multi-dimensional. Minami’s piano playing extended to the interior and exterior of the piano and both he and Tranberg know when to lay out.
The soundscape varied considerably through compelling undulations, bursts, streams and changes, each of which was surprising. At times, the sound was very minimalist, the breath of Greve through his sax, the finger-drumming of Mizutani on the outside of the bass, the delicate pad-pad of Sotoyama. At others, the sound cascaded over the audience with power and energy. The encore found Tranberg alone on stage, but so strong was the memory of the two full-on sets, it seemed that the audience could almost hear the rest of the musicians playing along with him from the other room.