AKIRA SAKATA — Sakata Orchestra ‎: 4 O'Clock (review)

AKIRA SAKATA — Sakata Orchestra ‎: 4 O'Clock album cover Album · 1981 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
snobb
Japanese reeds player Akira Sakata (born in Hiroshima in 1945) for last decade is on the top of most requested internationally country's jazz artist,playing and recording in States,Europe and Japan. He started his career in early 70s as highly respected Yosuke Yamashita Trio's member,but switched to solo career in early 80s. In mid-80s he played with short-lived but significant Peter Brotzmann's Last Exit (noisy supergroup with Sonny Sharrock,Ronald Shannon Jackson and Bill Laswell on board), and he met new Millenium playing with most radical experimenters around.

Still in early 80s Akira was more anchored to composed music, his short-lived but great Sakata Orchestra are a great example. "4 O'Clock" is the only band's studio album, released in 1981.

Massive reeds section (incl. future star Kazutoki Umezu),two drummers,two bassists,percussionist and two piano/keyboards players (plus uncredited operatic vocals on side B) build true orchestral feel on four pre-composed musical pieces. Differently from Sakata's current dominance of very free forms and often chaotic soloing, Sakata Orchestra were perfectly organised progressive big band with well-framed rhythm structures and arrangements. Main attraction were constantly changing soloists demonstrating truly free improvisational abilities.

Trying to use all most advanced trends of the time (incl. some cosmic electronic sounds and operatic vocals),Akira doesn't lose jazz orchestra's ground even for a second. It makes all music sound accessible,but very fresh and modern.

Well recorded (I missed more lows in mix though), this album sounds really attractive even today - great place to start one's journey researching rich legacy of living Japanese adventurous jazz legend.
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