BONJINTAN — Dental Kafka (review)

BONJINTAN — Dental Kafka album cover Album · 2020 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Free jazz sax player Akira Sakata is probably the most significant Japanese still active musician responsible for the the formation of the country's avant-garde jazz scene in early 70s. While still being a marine biology student, he started playing very new for Japan jazz genre in the late 60s. Between 1972 and 1979 he was a member of Yosuke Yamashita trio - the band that raised high the level of avant-garde jazz on the Japanese scene.

After he collaborated with Bill Laswell (playing with his Last Exit band on one album) and releasing a series of Laswell produced albums. Sakata experienced a return to fame during the last decades, being prolific and surprisingly creative, at the same time.

Bonjintan (what can be probably translated as "the simple man diary") is one of Akira's newest projects. It brings together such giants of the international improvisation scene as Italian keyboardist Giovanni Di Domenico and American bassist Jim O’Rourke (plus younger Japanese drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto, who are regular Giovanni Di Domenico collaborators for the last couple years). "Dental Kafka" is the project's second studio release (recorded in Japan).

Differently from many of Sakata's current projects, Bonjintan isn't extremely loud, screaming or explosive. This new album opens with oscillator-like electronic drones, recalling more some early minimalism works than the usual Sakata thunder-like chaos.

Surprisingly enough, Sakata doesn't play any reeds on "Ape Huci Kamuy" at all. Predominantly a keys/bass/drums electronics soundscape piece that is scented with his recitative voice (not screaming singing as often, but more an old times fairy tail movie's storytelling, Far East edition). Perfectly fits for imaginary adaptation of "Lord Of The Rings" for Far East market.

As a balance for opener, "Dental Kafka" opens with Sakata's soulful screaming sax soloing, returning the listener to more usual for Sakata music sound.

"Koro Koro Donguri" is a more meditative song again, with Akira playing clarinet with busy but very gracious participation of all the quartet's members. Far not so easily accessible music sounds almost chamber here.

"Bonjin" - the album closer and shortest song (still over ten minutes long) is a beautiful, almost dreamy ballad, started by piano and drums, Sakata comes at one moment with a beautiful, slightly melancholic tune, soloing. It recalls renown Prokofiev "Peter and the Wolf" theme and Akira's early band, Yosuke Yamashita trio works from the early 70s at the same time.

"Dental Kafka" represents more lyrical/philosophical side of a seasoned veteran's music, and does it pretty well being complex, hardly expectable and accessible all in one. Great artist at his mid 70s and is still extremely creative and capable producing great new music, not just enjoying his fame from the previous years.
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