Isao Suzuki, Approach, BBE Music ***1/2

Until now Approach has not, according to BBE Music, been reissued in 36 years when it first came out. The bassist Isao Suzuki - who hailed from Tokyo, recorded for such cult labels as Three Blind Mice, was in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the …

Published: 11 Mar 2023. Updated: 11 months.

Until now Approach has not, according to BBE Music, been reissued in 36 years when it first came out.

The bassist Isao Suzuki - who hailed from Tokyo, recorded for such cult labels as Three Blind Mice, was in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the early-1970s and who died in 2022 - is in his Black Orpheus period (a Three Blind Mice trio album that had Donald Bailey on it).

But here in a bass, drums, keys, guitar setting the Approach line-up includes the pianist Hideo Ichikawa who worked on some Joe Henderson albums that included 1973's blisteringly compelling In Japan. Ichikawa comes over in a pastoral Keith Jarrett 1970s vein on 'Otari'. And yet he is even better when he goes free on 'Tornado.'

Suzuki's gritttily raw edge that characterises his sense of rugged beat has a thrusting, probing validity best experienced through the charisma of his ostinato flourish exhibited on 'East Words' - the longest and most absorbing piece. The drummer here Masahiko Togashi, who worked with free-jazz pioneer Paul Bley and the great Masabumi Kikuchi, is not an intrusive presence at all. But he certainly makes his presence felt in all the right places. Black Orpheus is a better record. But chances are you will be spirited into Suzuki's world if previously impervious or worse oblivious to it anyway.

Isao Suzuki, photo: Wikipedia

Tags:

Gig choice 13/18-3-23

GIG OF THE WEEK: Michael Janisch Band featuring Walter Smith III, Eric Harland and James Francies, East Side, Birmingham Tuesday 14 March A stellar band. Bassist Michael Janisch - last heard lit up inside in Jean Toussaint's JT4 in congenial …

Published: 11 Mar 2023. Updated: 11 months.

Next post

mj

GIG OF THE WEEK:

  • Michael Janisch Band featuring Walter Smith III, Eric Harland and James Francies, East Side, Birmingham Tuesday 14 March

A stellar band. Bassist Michael Janisch - last heard lit up inside in Jean Toussaint's JT4 in congenial circumstances in Dalston back in 2021 with Empirical's Shaney Forbes in fine fettle at the kit - saxist Walter Smith III is now a Blue Note artist and whose Return to Casual is out on the label next month and from which two tracks are now streaming, Eric Harland (on Charles Lloyd classic Mirror, Blanchard gem Bounce, Billy Childs' superb Acceptance to name but a few) is the Elvin Jones of our time - check him here with Aaron Parks and Matt Brewer - James Francies has also recorded for Blue Note and is a Methenyian. Read our interview with James here



If you are into Steve Brown - in other words swinging, no messing hard bop rooted jazz where drums matter and that sounds as if it was made in the 1950s (whether you think that's a good thing or not that's entirely a personal call) - then Gaz Hughes on trio recording Beboptical Illusion is apropos. Hughes is with double bassist Ed Harrison and pianist Andrzej Baranek. Originals of the drummer's figure and there's a stately cover of Duke Ellington's 'Sophisticated Lady' among the selections. Baranek is quite an ornate player and the robust piano sound and overall band effect are very brightly captured.


  • Chris Potter Ronnie Scott's London Thurs 16
  • Dave Burgoyne Quartet Matt & Phred's Manchester Thurs 16
  • Greg Sterland Quartet The Hen and Chicken Bristol Thurs 16
  • Roo and Neil, Maridalen, Martin Kershaw Octet and Rachel Duns Duo, Atom Eyes, SNJO's Peter and the Wolf, Son Al Son Feat. Tania Fahey Palma & Melodie Fraser, Seb Rochford and Kit Downes, Georgia Cécile & Fraser Urquhart, Kyla Brox, Dee Don Danube, The Vintage Girls Orchestral Spectacular, Remembering Chet, Raf Ferrari Quartet, Dock in Absolute / Dave Milligan Solo, Rhyme Lounge Sessions, Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Band, Soundbath, Jazz The Day, Fergus McCreadie and Matt Carmichael, Magro, Funk Connection, Mary May - Best of Billie Holiday, Tim Kliphuis Jazz Four Seasons and Torus Aberdeen Jazz Festival Begins on Thursday and runs until 26 March
  • Matt Anderson Band The White House Oxford Thurs 16

  • Elmo Hope Celebration Quintet 7 Arts Leeds Thursday 16

A quintet led by Claus Raible from Germany and Herwig Gradischnig from Austria play the music of Elmo Hope who was born 100 years ago. An influence on some of today’s finest players including over the years Eric Reed and Django Bates, St Elmo Sylvester Hope was his full name. St Elmo is said to be among other things the patron saint of sailors. Elmo Hope was born in New York City of Caribbean heritage on 27 June 1923. As a teenager he survived being shot by a policeman. He died from heart failure aged 43 in 1967 after becoming hospitalised with pneumonia. He met Bud Powell when he was a teenager and as a player his career kicked off with Joe Morris’ R&B band which he was part of from 1948-1951. In 1953 as a leader he quickly made trio and quintet sets for Blue Note records. During his lifetime Hope was not that well known beyond musician circles. Few interviews with him were ever published. He recorded with John Coltrane on a sextet album for Prestige called Informal Jazz in 1956. Hope was a drug addict and went to jail for his habit. He recorded on Rikers Island, the East River island home to New York’s main jail where he served time, in August 1963 leading his ‘ensemble’ who included John Gilmore (1931-1995) of Sun Ra fame on tenor saxophone. After living in Los Angeles seven years before his death he returned to New York, marked first of all by Homecoming. He was married to fellow pianist Bertha (who later in life married bassist Walter Booker) and they recorded duets together some of which were released as Hope-Full.


Michael Janisch, main photo: press