(Studio TLive Records 2016)
Seiji Tada 多田誠司—alto saxophone, flute, alto flute
Mei Inoue 井上銘—guitar
Kazuaki Yokoyama 横山和明—drums
Jun Miyakawa 宮川純—organ
Seiji Tada’s band is just that–a real band. The four musicians fit together well, each in sync with all the others. It’s rare that band members fit together so well and seem to take such great delight in the music they create as one. But that in-sync, easy-going, laid-back sound is a real treat, equal parts fun and intense.
Starting off with Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo,” the band gets right to it. There’s less of a post-bop feel in this version, but that’s OK because it cooks hard. But it’s Tada’s original “Hacker” that sinks into the deeper groove. Inoue on guitar has the funk down, that real non-smooth funk. His solos are especially nice here, but check out the wah-wah rhythms, too. Tada’s sax solos rides them like waves, bending and flowing on top of all the energy.
The slower cool of “Gone with the Wind” lets Miyakawa’s and Inoue’s tonal palette come out. They have a full range of atmosphere-creating techniques, but they use them so perfectly. They get into the melodies and harmonies and bring them up fresh and new. Tada’s original “Zanshou,” or “afterglow,” is the most lovely tune on the CD. Played with slow control by all four of them, the song is stunning.
“Oaky-Dokey!!” gets back into a fun, bouncy set-up that pitches counterpoint against counterpoint to make a groove that’s impossible to resist. Both the organ and guitar comping are steeped in tradition but have their own sound.
Underneath, Yokoyama has a nimble hand, adding more by never over-adding. His drums never leap out and grab you, but focus in on them for a few bars and they offer consistently great accents, agreements, restatements and pleasing subtleties. On the slow-grooving “Moon” he doesn’t keep time so much as create it.
Tada has for many years worked with older musicians or his contemporaries, but this group has him as the elder in charge. That role suits him and lets him be himself by supplying six tunes, arranging the other three, and clearly leading the younger members in all the right directions. That makes for a great dynamic, whether on his original “Warm Woods,” a tribute to Phil Woods, or on his stately, big-feel closer, “Shall We Dance Till Dawn?”
This is a soulful, satisfying and must-have CD. Catch the band live, too, as they rev up each of these sharply written tunes and take them to even greater heights with a packed house in front of them.
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