Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hozan Yamamoto & Masabumi Kikuchi - 1970 - Ginkai

Hozan Yamamoto & Masabumi Kikuchi 

01. Prologue
02. Silver World
03. Stone Garden Of Ryoan Temple
04. A Heavy Shower
05. Sawanose
06. Epilogue

Bass – Gary Peacock
Drums – Hiroshi Murakami
Piano – Masabumi Kikuchi
Shakuhachi [Bamboo-Flute] – Hozan Yamamoto

Recorded October 15 & 20, 1970

A brilliant album by Hozan Yamamoto – a flute player with a great ear for mixing traditional sounds and modern jazz! The set's a suite of sorts – performed by a cool quartet with Yamamoto on bamboo flute, plus Masabumi Kikuchi on piano, Gary Peacock on bass, and Hiroshi Murakami on drums – all with a rich sense of poetry and feeling, that newly expressive sound that Japanese jazz hit as the 70s approached! Yamamoto's flute work alone is worth the price of admission – but alongside Kikuchi's well-timed (and toned) piano lines, and Peacock's roundly sensitive bass, the instrument is even more brilliant – heard on tracks that include "Silver World", "Stone Garden Of Ryoan Temple", "A Heavy Shower", and "Sawanose". 

Hozan Yamamoto is a great bamboo flute player; his skill on the flute is bar none. No wonder he's the most forefront aspect of this record; the flute really helps give this an atmosphere that gives off vibes of ancient Japanese history and mythology to me. I just love how mystical the atmosphere is; it's very relaxing, yet also full of wonder and curiosity, too. It's also a really unique thing to hear on a jazz record; very rarely do I hear wind instruments that aren't saxophones on any jazz record.
Doesn't mean the other players are bad, too; Gary Peacock and Hiroshi Murakami do a fine job on the rhythm section. bringing a more jazzy sound to this record. As does pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, who's the real genius behind this record. He often writes the majority of the songs with the Yo scale, which is one of the two pentatonic scales that's found in Japanese Classical genres like Shomyo and Gagaku and also in Japanese Folk Music. It has no minor notes, unlike the In scale, which is the other pentatonic scale used in much Japanese Classical and Folk Music except Gagaku. The lack of writing in the In scale likely helped Kikuchi in creating a record that showcases a very celestial-like, soothing atmosphere similar to some of the more spiritual jazz records that I've heard from artists like John and Alice Coltrane, for example. I'm glad Kikuchi did that, too, for a big use of the In scale would've made this record slightly unpleasant and unfitting for the lightness that this record is full of.
As great of a bamboo player as Yamamoto is, it's Kikuchi's writing that really helped make this one of the great Post Bop records for me. Of course, I'm a sucker for Post Bop, which is possibly my favorite Jazz sub-genre, but even so, I highly recommend this album not just to Post Bop fans, but to fans of Jazz music who want a unique, infrequently used sound. It's a very gorgeous, restful record.



  2. Like birds that sing outside house.