MASABUMI KIKUCHI — Poesy : The Man Who Keeps Washing His Hands (review)

MASABUMI KIKUCHI — Poesy : The Man Who Keeps Washing His Hands album cover Album · 1971 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi is one among this country's best known abroad jazzmen. He studied in Berklee in late 60s and on return to Japan played with many American musicians,touring the country.

I've read in Masabumi's interview with Ethan Iverson (2013)he never liked his Berklee studies (except for Herb Pomeroy)and in his early years was influenced by advanced artists of the time as McCoy Tyner.He met Paul Bley when he played in Japan with Sonny Rollins,and Paul became his next hero.

Later, Masabumi started playing with bassist Gary Peacock (who palyed with Bley and lived in Japan for some years in late 60s-early 70s). Here 0n "Poesy",Peacock plays excellent deep physical bass on three compositions (I believe Peacock's time in Japan was his most inventive and advanced period), but generally this album is Kikuchi duo work with leading Japanese percussionist Masahiko Togashi.

Masahiko Togashi was one of very first Japanese free-jazz drummer in early 60s, but after accident in late 60s he wasn't able to play drums anymore. He switched to percussion and developed very complex and loose own techniques.Here on "Poesy" Masahiko demonstrates it in whole.

"Poesy" isn't characteristic album for Japanese early 70s jazz scene - it isn't loud,noisy,dissonant and quirky. No-one pushes music to the limit here. Kikuchi is obviously influenced by American jazz tradition, he plays tuneful and even warm piano,but without sentimentalism or catchy appeal of some his later works.He even doesn't scream a lot when playing on Jarrett's manner(he will develop this techniques later, but you still can hear him here as well what shows that he did it originally,with no relation to this Jarrett's manner; Jarrett will become star after few years).

"Poesy" is a great title for this music,just think about Western-Japanese cocktail,mixing European tradition with American freedom and Eastern Buddhist meditativeness.Music sounds well balanced as rarely,being beautiful,adventurous and stimulating at the same time.

Kikuchi will return back to States soon where he will stay for decades till now.He will release many albums developing his own style (some of them are really successful, others-not so much).Gary Peacock will become a real ECM star playing with Jarrett and Paul Motian among others (his Japanese period collaborations stay one of his most interesting works till now). Masahiko Togashi continued to enjoy Japan's cult percussionist status for decades ahead.

This album (with magnificent full title "Poesy:The Man Who Keeps Washing His Hands")was reissued on CD and became easier accessible evidence of great times in jazz.
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