AKIRA TANA — Love's Radiance (Ai San San) (review)

AKIRA TANA — Love's Radiance (Ai San San) album cover Album · 2019 · World Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
js
"Ai San San (Love’s Radiance}” is the third album for Akira Tana’s Otonowa group. Akira formed the band in 2012 to try and raise money for the coastal victims of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Since 2014, the band has toured the most damaged areas as they do what they can to help out. The four main members of the group are all Japanese American jazz musicians, and for this recording, Akira added three more musicians playing more traditional Japanese instruments. The goal of this CD is to take traditional and popular Japanese melodies and transform them through the use of many different jazz idioms. When it comes to cultural potpourris, “Ai San San”, may take the cake. Along with a variety of Japanese and Western instruments mixing it up on here, you also get a variety of musical styles such as post bop, tango, calypso, Latin jazz, pop and free jazz. Due to the immense variety on here, each song represents a totally separate musical universe.

Hardcore jazzers will probably enjoy “Antagata Dokosa”, “Taiyo Hoero” and “Kando” on which the band plays energetic post bop and free jazz reminiscent of Herbie Hancock’s VSOP group. “Mura Matsuri” is a calypso number with a smooth saxophone solo that recalls Sonny Rollins during his colossal days. “Habu Minato” is probably the only tango in the world performed on traditional Japanese instruments, unless there is another one I missed out on. The album closes with Horace Silver‘s “Peace”, which takes on a very Asian flavor as it is performed on the shakuhachi. Elsewhere on the CD you get a variety of ballads and contemporary jazz performed with a mix of Japanese and Western instruments. I would imagine “Ai San San” would carry even more enjoyment for those who recognize these familiar Japanese melodies, but for the rest of u,s it is still an interesting multi-cultural ride through many synthesized landscapes.
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