Tetsuro Kawashima Quartet “Soul Suite”

(B.J.L/Space Shower Networks Inc. 2016)

Tetsuro Kawashima川嶋哲郎—tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute

Hiroyuki Takubo 田窪寛之—piano

Koji Yasuda 安田幸司—bass

Gaku Hasegawa 長谷川ガク—drums

Soulful is the first word that comes to mind for Kawashima’s excellent 2016 recording. The playing is masterful and yet what is most striking is the energy emerging from a deeper interior space. This is a suite of songs that doesn’t stay on the surface, but digs deep. There is a lot of Coltrane in the work, in the sound, yes, but more satisfyingly in the searching for a spiritual space from which to create.

That exploratory feel finds moments of high energy, but also reflective calm. The “suite” becomes not just six related songs, but a real journey into the musical self and the potential of music to connect across selves.

The CD starts with three songs that are nearly part of the central six-song suite, feeling like the preludes they are. There is a lot of thankfulness and gratitude to all the song titles, but also that sense flows through the wistful feeling of the playing. The melodies become lovely, passionate and emotionally vibrant.

The range of playing dips down into calm waters, but moves to higher, faster planes, too. There is no hurry to the meandering of many tunes, and a natural outpouring of savvy on others. When Kawashima and quartet tap so deeply into their hearts and souls, it seems secondary to comment on the quality of playing, but it’s top-notch, depending less on expertise and experience than on attitude and approach. That makes for a satisfying set of moving music.

It is marvelous to hear Kawashima and collaborators moving towards a broader palette of feeling and expression. The quartet moves away from the youthful post-bop they have already mastered towards a more mature, reflective and insightful way of writing, playing and improvising. This CD is highly recommended and a great place to get into Kawashima’s two dozen-plus recordings, all of which seem to be leading up to this one. Very highly recommended.

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Michael Pronko

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Michael Pronko
Phone/Fax: 042-387-7066