YOKOHAMA ISEAZAKI TOWN (short version)
YOKOHAMA YAMASHITA TOWN
YOKOHAMA YAMATE TOWN
Pierre Crepon - New York City Jazz Record
Working outside of this circumscribed area, Takagi’s playing moves on to another order of magnitude. On Live at Little John, Yokohama 1999, Takagi is featured on tenor with drummer Shota Koyama and two wind players one generation younger: Susumu Kongo and Nao Takeuchi. Respectively playing alto and tenor and both doubling on flute and bass clarinet, they will be names known only to specialists of the Japanese scene but are nevertheless excellent musicians. The liner essay indicates that Kongo is also a noted repairman and that Takeuchi has been a student of both Takagi and Byard Lancaster. There are several outstanding moments in the 40-minute opening piece, but Track Two is the stunner and gives an accurate idea of the overall dynamic. It opens with tenor underscored by low bass clarinet tones held through circular breathing. A short cyclical motive signals the move into another phase, which could be described using the vocabulary applying to classic free jazz buildups. But here, gradually increasing intensity does not proceed from cumulative playing merging into a single sound mass; it results from an explosive amount of multidirectional melodic and rhythmic invention from the three horns, all playing simultaneously, but with impressive delineation. As on most of the tape, Koyama’s drumming remains economical and supportive. Elsewhere, Takagi has also taken the uncommon step of approaching U.S. free jazz in terms of repertoire, playing pieces by Ornette Coleman, Charles Tyler, Steve Lacy or the Art Ensemble of Chicago. This piece reaches its conclusion as if following the classic organization of jazz performances that still figured in the music of the early American pioneers, returning to the opening statement, calmly and with perfect balance. This is mature music that uses the best of what had been uncovered during the long and convoluted history of free playing. It is also, importantly for an archival release, not music heard before. Takagi died three years after this performance.