TON-KLAMI — In Moers (review)

TON-KLAMI — In Moers album cover Live album · 1993 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
snobb
After some more or less successful fusion releases and a series of neoclassical piano albums released during the late 70s and 80s, Japanese early avant-garde jazz legend Masahiko Satoh returned back to his roots in the early 90s, forming Ton-Klami trio with Korean reeds player Kang Tae Hwan and lesser known Japanese percussionist Midori Takada.

The trio's debut album is their live recordings from the Moers Festival in Germany 1991, released that same year by Nippon Crown in Japan. Without a doubt, besides Satoh, the other interesting musician on this recording is Tae Hwan (playing exclusively alto sax here). Korea isn't a jazz friendly country even now, in the early 90s there were very few musicians playing jazz there at all. Reedist Kang Tae Hwan is probably the best known of them all, at least outside of the country. His sax sound is very different from any Western sax player, dry and very "out", strongly influenced by East-Asian musical traditions and Buddhist culture. At the same time, he is a real free jazz musician without overt sounds from other music.

Masahiko Satoh is known for his cold, technical piano playing. Here on this album he is even more formal, combining "teutonic" free improvisation with academic musicianship. Percussionist Midori Takada is obviously in the supporting role to the two leaders, who don't always interplay successfully. It's even more strange that here in this live recording, in fact all concert long, Satoh and Tae Kwan exchange with each other on solos almost without having a common ground for their music.

A few years later this trio will release their next album, a studio one this time, with guest New York reedist Ned Rothenberg, who demonstrates a much better communication and really better realized potential. Still, on "In Moers", they demonstrate some raw ideas more than real musicianship.

For Tae Kwan though, this collaboration was an important step towards his quite successful international solo career.
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