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Tomas Fujiwara : Pith review

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Printed Date: 18 Apr 2024 at 5:58pm
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Topic: Tomas Fujiwara : Pith review
Posted By: snobb
Subject: Tomas Fujiwara : Pith review
Date Posted: 22 Sep 2023 at 12:49pm

Tomas Fujiwara: Pith review – incredibly detailed pieces go far beyond jazz

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(Out of Your Head Records)
Patricia Brennan and Tomeka Reid’s unique talents are foregrounded in an album that spirals into ambient, post-rock and classical 

Drummer Tomas Fujiwara has been a fixture on New York’s jazz scene for more than a decade, playing with the likes of Thumbscrew, Matana Roberts and Triple Double. He’s also an adventurous composer who has written most of the compositions on this album, but his drumming is very much in the background – his presence largely textural and ornamental. Instead his incredibly detailed, densely written pieces have been composed to suit the unique talents of his bandmates – the vibraphonist Patricia Brennan and the cellist Tomeka Reid.


The artwork for Pith
The artwork for Pith

Reid, usually playing pizzicato and at the low end of her instrument, often sounds as if she’s playing a double bass, which means that some of this album sounds like a minty-fresh vibes/bass/drums jazz trio. That’s definitely true of the dainty swing of Josho, based around Reid’s melodic walking bassline (like Milt Jackson’s MJQ playing a spy movie soundtrack) and also the creepy, churning, Latin-inflected opener, Solace (like Gary Burton jamming with a no wave band).

But Fujiwara’s compositions move far beyond the jazz realm, nudging into ambient, post-rock and classical territory. On Resolve, Brennan plays discordant voicings on a reverb-laden vibraphone while Reid and Fujiwara make a series of electronic-sounding drones and whistles, using bowed cymbals and forced harmonics to sound like a throbbing power station. Other is a chaotic patchwork of musical fragments thrown together, free improv style. Breath is a wonderfully meditative piece which appears to be written in a disorientating 9/4 time signature. Best of all is the pulsating minimalism of Swelter, where Brennan’s jabbering, descending vibes melody and Reid’s four-to-the-bar basslines are set to an urgent krautrock beat.


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