Drummer Takeo Moriyama came just a little bit late to be a part of Japanese free-jazz revolution in late 60s, but this fact probably influenced his all future career in music. Started as Yosuke Yamashita Trio's drummer in mid 70's, he played with some known Japanese and European avant-garde jazz artists (including German sax players Manfred Schoof and Peter Brotzmann)but never attracted much attention as leader. Even more, for bad or for good differently from all generation of Japanese advanced jazz musicians who made their names in 1969, his playing being quite free has been always bop-influenced. As a result, it looks his music just got stuck somewhere in between of mainstream jazz and avant-garde, never becoming part of one or the other.
Here on "Bit" he recorded one of his stronger session - as duo with great pianist Mal Waldron. By it's structure "Bit" recalls Waldron's very successful late 80s series released on Italian Soul Note label where each album (studio or live) as rule contains two or three longish advanced post-bop compositions only, each over 20 minutes long. Here, this time in mid 90s,it looks Maldron tries to repeat this formula, with partial success only though.
So,"Bit"(an album,recorded live in studio)contains two compositions only, with "Laud Suite" as opener,lasting longer than 48 minutes! And there is nothing about noodling,endless free improvs - no way."Suite..." is tuneful and well framed and structured composition quite similar to Waldron music from previous decade. Since this song is credited to both Moriyama and Waldron and it doesn't exist nowhere else on Waldron recordings, it looks that it have been written specially for this session. From very first sounds one has no doubt that here's Waldron playing his music - his style is easy recognizable. At the same time during all these minutes you can feel like listening to Mal playing medley of his old tunes: almost every catchy tune is already heard somewhere before.
Structurally "Suite..." is constructed as collection Waldron's soulful piano parts and Moriyama's groovy drums solo parts changing each other on very balanced manner. Takeo's drumming is a bit too heavyweight for Mal's dark and quite lyrical piano and in moments he sounds as gracious as dancing bear in the glass room. Still,deeply rooted in hard-bop, he doesn't sound out of place here.
Second and final album's composition is Waldron standard "Left Alone". Just seven minutes and less quirky structure - this composition sounds as typical Mal top song (with Takeo landed to just supporting drummer's chair). Less adventurous at the same time "Left Alone" placed everything on their right places.In reality very much an album of Mal Waldron,this release is one good album for his fans. Far not his best it still contains lot of elements Mal music is known and loved.
P.S. A year after same label, Tokuma,will release rest of the same session's material as next duo album "Dual" (seven shorter compositions this time)