MASAHIKO SATOH — Randooga: Select Live Under The Sky '90 (review)

MASAHIKO SATOH — Randooga: Select Live Under The Sky '90 album cover Live album · 1990 · Eclectic Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
snobb
Pianist Masahiko Satoh,one of cornerstone figure of modern Japanese jazz, founded Randooga group in 1990.The project's concept was very simple: each member improvise based on knowledge of folk melodies from different cultures and doesn't try to arrange his musicianship according to common musical harmonies. More than thirty years ago bassist Alan Silva recorded the album ("Luna Surface"),based on similar concept,which sounded almost as cacophony. In Masahiko Satoh version, it sounds much more accessible and tuneful though.

For the first Randooga's release Satoh formed the all-stars big band including leading Japanese and Western jazz artists: sax players Wayne Shorter,Kazutoki Umezu and Kohsuke Mine,trombonist Ray Anderson,drummer Alex Acuna,percussionists Midori Takada and Nana Vasconcellos, guitarist Takayuki Hijikata and Akira Okazawa on bass.Recorded during live gig, this album contains quite eclectic mix of Japanese traditional tunes,jazz-rock,Latin percussion,contemporary classical composition,tuneful saxes soloing,big band's arrangements and pop-songs attractiveness.

Oppositely to above mentioned "Luna Surface" or many other similar Western recordings,music here isn't hot, attacking or just high energetic at all. Never too slow or lifeless to become boring, it still contains lot of Japanese Zen tradition and flows quite relaxing enjoying ever-changing tunes and rhythms. Interesting mix of spontaneous but well-controlled folk-tunes based orchestral improvisations, this formula doesn't work well all the time. Some part of 73-minutes long recording sounds as orchestra playing out of tune or just missing the direction. It always returns back on track,but the feeling of regular losing of direction stays with listener all album long.

Satoh continued his Randooga project for years ahead,releasing some albums and even founded in 1993 Randooga Dojo - a school of free improvisation for children and adults, the only such kind of professional education available in Japan(knowing jazz popularity in Japan it's a big surprise that young Japaneses,dreaming about jazz musician career,need to study in Berklee,US). Satoh Randooga's "Live Under The Sky'90" is a representative example of decades-long Satoh's (as well as some other sound Japanese jazz artists)search of "Japanese way in jazz", the experiments he never abandoned to continue.
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