March 19, 2017 at Shimokitazawa Apollo
Hiroaki Mizutani – bass
Yuto Maseki – drums
Five, Four, Three, Two, One, we have liftoff!
Under the government of “President” Saito, the quartet took the audience on an electrifying trip to outer space through music. The voyage started with Glenn Miller’s “The Little Brown Jug.” Yes, Glenn Miller. In fact, the theme itself was used just as an excuse for a very energetic and inspired improvisation, and it set up the tone for the night. Sure, Miller must have turned in his grave. But maybe he turned over to listen.
Saito’s way of playing his guitar with all sorts of pedals, glass slides and a violin bow gives an endless variation of sounds and moods. Saito uses it all with amazing sensibility and talent. All sounds and noises produced by his playing contribute in perfect harmony with the other instruments. Nothing sounds too much or too little, everything adds just the right tone he wants for each tune.
The quartet also have a perfect balance between its members. Mizutani and Yuto, with talent, skills, expertise and sensibility, form the pavement for a very solid runway, on which Saito and Minami can take flight and land, and take flight again. They make the perfect base for the exciting and energetic improvisations of Saito and Minami. Mizutani’s bass is bold, masculine and yet sensitive and sophisticated. His high-level technique is clear even at the fastest tempo.
Yuto’s reduced drum set–with only high hat cymbals, ride cymbal, snare drums, and bass drum–did not limit his creativity and power of driving and accenting, but instead gave a very particular and interesting sound under, in and around the other musicians.
Minami is that kind of musician with a broad range capable of mastering a ballad with high level of sensibility. He also is great at pushing the music to become extremely energetic by extracting sounds from the piano that run from lyrical to guttural.
The other tunes for the evening were many, but each one set up a special, new interaction between the bandmates. “Swing for Myself” was a beautiful ballad. But the real heart of the set were great, long takes on “The Touch Of Your Eyes,” Charles Mingus’ “Oh Lord Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me,” and “Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress.” “Silk Blue,” “Jazz for Dolphy” and “Blue Balls” rounded out the set of inspired and fascinating music.