HOZAN YAMAMOTO — Beautiful Bamboo-Flute (review)

HOZAN YAMAMOTO — Beautiful Bamboo-Flute album cover Album · 1971 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
This 1971 album from one of Japan’s most famous flautists is at once ‘cool’ and almost ‘spacey’ while also coming across as ‘warm’. Production-wise, there’s a lot of reverb in the mix but it’s not drowning out the instruments either.

The pieces often sit neatly in a light fusion/funk place that’s mostly driven by the rhythm section of Nobuo Hara’s Sharps & Flats, but there’s probably also enough blues and jazz to hopefully satisfy a range of listeners – especially of progressive big band, I reckon.

In some ways, “Beautiful Bamboo-Flute” puts me in the mind of a more laid-back Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band, with maybe more focus on Latin sub-genres where you’ll get more hints of say, Bossa Nova than Hard Bop.

There are also plenty of traditional, folk elements to the album too, not just via Yamamoto’s playing but in the source material. ‘Nanbu Ushioi-Uta’ for instance, is not wholly haunting in its updated arrangement, at least not compared to ‘Itsuki no Komori-Uta’, which verges on menacing. These tracks especially will probably bring to mind what a lot of people might imagine when Japanese flute is mentioned.

The latter half of the album is where the arrangements open up to a little more soloing but again, this isn’t a bop album – which I’m not saying is a bad thing at all.

I think if you’re a fan of any of the folks I’ve mentioned above, or perhaps even Osamu Kitajima, then you’ll definitely like this release, even though it has a little less guitar overall than Kitajima albums.
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