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"Not Seeing Is A Flower" Leo Records 2018


Jazz and Blues October 2018

According to Google, In Japan, the phrase "not seeing is a flower" means things will never be as you imagine, so you're better off not seeing them, making it an interesting allegory to freely improvised music. The talented band on this album consists of Takashi Seo on bass, Akira Sakata on alto saxophone, clarinet, vocals and percussion, Darren Moore on drums and percussion and Simon Nabatov on piano. The music unfolds gradually almost like a ceremony that is improvised in that very moment, beginning with "Surge" which has spare piano, bowed bass and percussion.  The music gains a faster pace quickly, with a rolling collective improvisation that Sakata gradually joins a few minutes in with his trademark gruff and powerful saxophone playing, and this pushes the music over the top into a stellar free jazz blowout that is very exciting. The music moves dramatically into open space, allowing for raw saxophone to flourish, gradually moving into the track "Retreat" with delicate piano creating an evocative mood, picking up speed and dancing through the short piece with bass and drums. Sakata returns for "Uncoil" with subtle brushwork and taut bass nearby, turning darker with scouring bass and saxophone swooping in. The music swells with intensity as the band comes together to become a near physical force of power and grace. Their playing is able to wax and wane, with Moore deftly weaving quiet brushes in with powerful pummeling. Thick tones of bass alternate with ripe bowing, leading to amazing textures that pull in the whole group, with dexterous and propulsive piano to boot. Sakata's startling vocalizations are at the heart of "Ritual" with percussion, piano and bass creating a phalanx behind him, the music seethes coiled power and energy, while at the same time evoking a solemn and ceremonial sensibility. "Resolve" has Sakata moving to clarinet, the light nimble sound seemingly at odds with his gritty saxophone and vocals. The rhythm sections pushes relentlessly and the music develops a unique drive and sense of motion, sounding stark and pungent. This leads the to impressive finale, "Abscond" which develops over fourteen minutes to strong statement of this group's prowess. Sakata's raw and stoic saxophone is quite affecting and the musicians around him are no less potent, creating a collectively improvised tapestry of considerable color and vividness, which is also an apt description of this excellent album as a whole.

Tim Niland


Avant Scena September 2018

“Not Seeing is a Flower” is the new release of “Leo Records”. Album was recorded by four jazz masters – Akira Sakata (saxophone), Simon Nabatov (piano), Takashi Seo (bass) and Darren Moore (drums). Four musicians are individual, creative and innovative jazz masters. Their music is based on absolutely different music styles, artsy and creative synthesis between various cultures and world countries. Each musician has his own and original playing style, unique sound, suggestive, effective and expressive playing manner.  Organic synthesis of Japan’s ethnic music, the basics of Asia music intonations meet hot, tremendous, turbulent and free improvisations, main elements of experimental jazz and the intonations of other jazz styles. The elements of provocative and complicated rhythmic, sharp harmony, furiously fast and bright solos, virtuosic passages and other elements of abbreviation and ornamentation – these and many other parts of musical language contain the main musical pattern of musician’s improvisations. Each improviser brings original and specific sound to free, dynamic, variable and remarkable collective improvisations. That created wide and colorful range of different musical language’s elements and makes an effort to passionate, expressive and energetic sound. “Not Seeing is a Flower” is filled with organic, suggestive and remarkable sound. Free improvisations are based on contrasts and concepts, which are the opposites to each other. Because of marvelous and inventive improvising, musicians fuse together pieces, shapes, styles, cultures and wide range of musical language element’s in one place. The music is based on bright, expressive and variable sound, which connects many different pieces in one place. Japan traditional music, free improvisation, experimental, avant-garde and modern jazz, the intonations of progressive and contemporary jazz, the main tendencies of European avant-garde jazz, soft intonations of experimental and contemporary academical music – this huge synthesis of various music styles and genres is made here. Musicians choose the most effective and original way to do it – they are traveling through various moods, senses, emotions and expressions and surely know how to make organic, remarkable, sometimes even strange, eclectic or weird connection between several different music styles. The connection of two continents – Asia and Europe – music are accounted here. Asian music harmony, rhythmic, specific melodic intonations of traditional melodies, unusual structure, microtones, form and instrumentation bring an exotic sound to the compositions. It makes a marvelous and effective synthesis with the basics of Western Europe music: classical harmony, based on consonances and dissonances, traditional forms, quadratic structure, various scales, typical instrumentation and modern, innovative and interesting musical decisions. The compositions have bright, evocative and inspiring musical language, which is filled with sparkling, passionate and impressive melodies. Along with the fusion of European and Asian music, the compositions also have the other side. Hot, thrilling, passionate and especially bright, expressive and luminous – that’s how it’s possible to call collective improvisations by all four musicians. Free improvisation and the basics of experimental, modern, avant-garde and progressive jazz styles make engaging, colorful, illustrative and innovative musical pattern. This music contains dozens of different musical expressions, innovative playing techniques, eclectic combinations, exotic and unusual instrumental combos and many other elements. Soft, silent and relaxing episodes with abstract structure and dozens of weird timbres, passionate melodies, bright, evocative, gorgeous and furiously rapid passages, remarkable melodies, harsh, powerful and vibrant blow outs, monotonic, stable and deep bass line, depressive and tragic pieces or playful, light, joyful and gentle pieces – all kinds of moods and expressions, produced by inventive musicians, make an effort to marvelous and inspiring sound of the album.


The New York City Jazz Record January 2019

Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov, who turns 60 years old this month, has placed his prodigious talents at the service of the jazz avant garde for much of his lengthy career. While his compositions served as the backbone of masterpieces such as Nature Morte (Leo, 2001) and The Master And Margarita (Leo, 2001), he can most often be found in freely improvised settings like that captured on Not Seeing Is A Flower. On this no-holds-barred session, recorded live in Japan in November 2017, he’s in the company of firebrand Japanese reed player Akira Sakata, with his countryman Takashi Seo on bass and Tokyo-based Australian Darren Moore on drums. Together they constitute an accomplished unit, balancing energy with reflection over one long-form improv, which encompasses the first five tracks and one shorter final piece. Nabatov’s involvement brings an added dimension to the music. There’s an endless fascination in the free- flowing architecture of his angular lines, enhanced by a precise touch that allows odd pockets of space to flourish in even the swiftest runs. As with all the finest improvisers, he exerts as much influence when he drops out as when he plays. That’s evinced in “Surge”, where his cessation precipitates a shift from the predominant high-octane exchange to sparse, more conversational colloquy among the remaining participants. Sakata, a veteran of the Japanese free scene with a strong post-Ayler sensibility, follows his own course, generating snarling terrier-like outbursts and choked legato streams, especially on alto. Seo and Moore constitute a responsive rhythm section, as adept at the timbral exploration that underpins Sakata’s exclamations as the contrapuntal momentum gracing much of the discourse. Moore’s emphatic interaction with Nabatov shines on “Uncoil” while Seo’s deep arco countercurrents create a pleasing polarity to Sakata’s falsetto on the same cut. What might divide listeners rather more, depending on their attitude, are Sakata’s wordless vocal gymnastics on “Ritual”, though that’s a minor interlude in an otherwise gripping date.

John Sharpe


Downbeat January 2019

Although divided into five tracks, this live set—recorded at Jazz Spot Candy in the Chiba prefecture just east of Tokyo during November 2017—sounds like a continuous improvisation, with only the closing “Abscond” seeming separate. It’s a fine example of international collaboration on the improvising front. Only three minutes into the opening tune, “Surge,” and Simon Nabatov’s piano is running cascades while Akira Sakata’s alto saxophone is molten—not so far removed from a Cecil Taylor/Jimmy Lyons sparring session. Sakata bends his screamed notes as he flies, his cohort reacting swiftly in accord. All elements coalesce during “Resolve,” as Sakata ripples and races on clarinet, tightly focused on a clenched attack, his comrades locking into the thrilling, complicated route of the chase.

Martin Longley


Mr. Stu's Record Room November 2018

The international quartet of Akira Sakata, Simon Nabatov, Takashi Seo, & Darren Moore did a short tour of Japan, culminating in Not Seeing Is A Flower, a live recording made at Jazzspot Candy in Chiba, near Tokyo. The disc documents the first set and “abridged second set.” Given the explosive nature of saxophonist Sakata and pianist Nabatov, we would expect many boldly intense passages, and indeed by the five minute mark of Surge, the saxophonist is wailing, the pianist is pounding away, bassist Seo is contributing swirls of sound, and Moore is using his drums and cymbals to kick everything into a more frenetic and chaotic realm. But it’s not all so frenzied, as the collective mind of the quartet allows the music to ebb and flow in a natural fashion. The almost imperceptible shifts in tempo and attack result from the deep level of understanding that the musicians seem to have developed in a relatively short time on bandstands around Japan. Although the track titles indicate a certain attitude towards the music, divisions between “tunes” are rather arbitrary as the music just flows along. I could do without Sakata’s throaty shouts on Ritual, though it might have been fun to watch. I’m much more partial to his voluble reed work, like the roller-coaster ride of a clarinet solo he uncoils on Resolve. He’s working against Nabatov’s countermelodies, hurled out with great panache, Seo’s conversational bass, and the rollicking drums of Moore. The quartet brings the music to a quiet close, and a brief resolution. Abscond picks up where they left off, as a soaring Sakata, now on alto, slowly raises the heat to full boil. Not Seeing Is A Flower offers a largely satisfying program of free and unpredictable improvisations.

Stuart Kremsky


Jazz Weekly Januar 2019

The quartet of Akira Sakata/as-cl-voc-perc, Simon Nabatov/p, Takashi Seo/b and Darren Moore/drr.perc get free and frisky on these six intuitive originals. Yelling and tribal percussion takes up “Ritual” with searing alto teaming with trudging rhythm on “Retreat” while the drums and piano scramble like cockroaches on the acerbic “Surge.” Most accessible is the bopping “Abscond” and the bluesy “Uncoil” which features some piercing piano by Nabatov. Ideas bouncing off the walls, with some sticking like al dente pasta.

George W. Harris


Free Form Free Jazz Januar 2019

Este álbum reúne o quarteto formado pelos japoneses Akira Sakata (sax e clarinete) e Takashi Seo (baixo) ao lado do russo Simon Nabatov (piano) e do australiano Darren Moore (bateria). A gravação mostra a última parada de uma turnê pelo Japão que o grupo fez em novembro de 2017, tendo sido registrada no Jazzspot Candy, em Chiba. São aproximadamente 50 minutos de música intensa, exploração free jazzística que não foge do campo da energy music, como mostra de cara o primeiro tema, "Surge", em que Sakata já incendeia todos à volta com seu sax alto, tom que ele ameaça baixar na mais suave (mas nem tanto) "Uncoil", para voltar de forma explosiva, já ao clarinete, em "Resolve". Sakata, aos 73 anos de idade, mantém a chama elevadíssima, sendo ainda uma das vozes mais intensas não só de seu país, mas de toda cena free jazzística. Afora seu sopro, marca presença seu inconfundível canto, que aparece aqui em "Ritual". Nabatov, o outro nome mais ativo e experiente do quarteto, também está em grande fase, fazendo de sua pulsante arte pianística uma voz tão marcante quanto a de Sakata – juntos, criam passagens de elevada potência expressiva.

Fabricio Vieira


Draai om je oren March 2019

'Not Seeing Is A Flower' is een liveregistratie van een concert in Japan. Nabatov kende de Australische drummer Darren Moore, die recent enige jaren in Tokyo doorbracht en daar onder anderen met saxofonist Akira Sakata en bassist Takashi Seo speelde. Hij was het die hen vroeg voor dit bijzondere kwartet. Free jazz die je op het puntje van de stoel doet belanden, maar waar evengoed ingenieus met klank wordt geschilderd, bijvoorbeeld in 'Uncoil', waarin de klanken die deze vier musici ten gehore brengen vrijwel niet van elkaar zijn te onderscheiden. Exotisch ruig en typisch Japans is de zang van Sakata in 'Ritual', geflankeerd door subtiele klankkleuren. 'Surge' en 'Resolve' zijn eveneens bijzonder, met name vanwege het samenspel op het scherpst van de snede tussen deze vier musici. Dit album vormt zonder meer een prachtig monument van een bijzondere ontmoeting.

Ben Taffijn


Jazz View December 2018

…As antithetical as sauerkraut is to sushi, Not Seeing is a Flower was created on a South-Asian tour two years later. Recorded in Chiba, Japan, the half-dozen tracks are fully in the Free Jazz/Free Music axis, with the pianist working with the group in which he toured: Australian drummer Darren Moore, Tokyo-bases bassist Takashi Seo and venerable Japanese Free Jazz pioneer Akira Sakata, who plays alto saxophone, clarinet, percussion and vocalizes. Visceral and ecstatic, the Japanese suite begins with sparse key patterning and harsh string sweeps from the bassist until Sakata’s yowling and spitting reed patterns gooses the action to the extent that Nabatov is soon pushed into pseudo Ragtime key patterning to match the saxophonist’s great swaths of irregular vibrations and echoing split tones. By “Uncoil” the appropriately titled mid-point, this intimidating sequence finds each player moving the narrative sharply upwards with percussive strung slaps from Seo, pitter-patter drum beats and the saxophonist bending as many timbres aurally as the pianist does through soundboard rumbles, mixed with swift glissandi, The riposte arrives on the subsequent “Ritual” as Sakata vocalized an assemblage of blood-curdling and guttural mumbles and yowls, which are positioned New Thing-like atop Moore’s febrile bell-ringing and triple stopped patterns from the bassist. A sudden turn to coloratura clarinet tones, spur Nabatov’s previously almost distracted comping to vigorous two-handed tremolo, figuratively moving the exposition from concentrated to dispersed. What remains is “Abscond”, the climatic, almost 15-minute finale, which takes on an unexpected Blues-Bebop casing, with the saxophonist absconding with elongated Earl Bostic-like R&B echoes, while hard plops from the bassist and quicksilver chording from the pianist torque the piece still further to the extent that Nabatov’s arpeggiated runs are soon matching the saxophonist note for note and tone for tone. Narrowing the reed output to split tones then unaccented air to complement Nabatov’s subsequent inner string plucking, Sakata and the others return the experimental overlay that defined the introduction with a finale that signals continuation as much as conclusion.

Ken Waxman


Music Zoom September 2018 Italy

Il pianista di origine russa Simon Nabatov risiede a Colonia in Germania e di recente è stato in tour per due mesi in Asia fra Singapore, Malesia, Corea e Giappone, dove ha inciso questo disco dal vivo al Jazz Spot Candy di Chiba, vicino Tokio, l’ultimo giorno. Insieme a lui il veterano del free giapponese Akira Sakata al sax alto, alle percussione e su Resolve al clarinetto. Il più giovane Takashi Seo è al contrabbasso, anche lui molto attivo in patria in diversi generi musicali, alla batteria l’australiano Darren Moore che risiede da alcuni anni in Giappone. Il quartetto fa una musica molto movimentata, all’insegna di un free jazz che conoscono molto bene. Il concerto si apre con Surge, lentamente, con la ritmica ed un Nabatov che carbura a poco a poco fino a che arriva l’aggressivo sassofono contralto di Sakata ed la musica prende quota. Nabatov insieme alla ritmica è un propulsore che sa come agitare le acque su cui il sassofonista galleggia come su una tempesta. Al breve Retreat in cui il pianista russo mostra tutto il suo virtuosismo, segue Uncoil, con Sakata in gran forma ed un Nabatov molto propositivo. La musica si tranquillizza, si fa per dire, con il successivo Ritual, Sakata recita come uno sciamano accompagnato dalle percussioni. Su Resolve passa al clarinetto, su cui ricorda gli americani John Carter e Perry Robinson (con cui Nabatov ha lavorato ed inciso). Il lungo, quasi quindici minuti, Abscond, chiude il disco, anche qui momenti momenti molto intensi da parte di tutti, una collaborazione molto riuscita fra veterani e musicisti più giovani che celebrano il free jazz.

Vittorio Lo Conte


Onyx October 2018 Italy

Quartet « classique » sax alto : Akira Sakata (aussi clarinette voix et percussions) , piano : Simon Nabatov, contrebasse : Takashi Seo, batterie : Darren Moore. Simon Nabatov , un pianiste superlatif, trace sa carrière à coup d’albums Leo avec des musiciens superlatifs comme Frank Gratkowski. Il écope ici d’une très bonne « section rythmique». La présence d’Akira Sakata donne un supplément d’âme. On avait connu ce saxophoniste alto impétueux souffler le chaud et le froid avec le pianiste Yosuke Yamashita et le batteur Takeo Moriyama dans une aventure complètement libre durant les premières années 70 et un registre hyper énergétique voisin des trios Taylor-Lyons-Cyrille, Schlippenbach-Parker-Lovens, Brötzmann-Van Hove-Bennink. Il n’a pas baissé la garde, toujours aussi prompt à en découdre. On découvre aujourd’hui un saxophoniste alto de premier plan, avec une connaissance remarquable/ intuitive des modes et des harmonies. Qu’est ce que cela à avoir quand on joue « free », me direz vous ? À se guider dans la jungle sonore, celle des intervalles auxquels sont confrontés tous les musiciens. Il jongle avec les sons et leur hauteur relative et c’est ce qui rend son phrasé mordant, volatile et perçant vraiment attirant. On suit ses improvisations endiablées à la trace sans se lasser. La maîtrise du clavier de Simon Nabatov est confondante : ses ruissellements cristallins et ondulations de doigtés main droite - main gauche sont superbement articulés et offrent une réponse convaincante aux envolées exacerbées et sensuelles du souffleur. Le groupe est remarquablement soudé et inventif, toujours prêt à s'égarer dans le domaine des sons libres et spontanés. Le batteur Darren Moore est remarquable dans son rôle de soutien - commentateur aussi discret qu'efficace. Le bassiste Takashi Seo se démène pour tirer la musique hors de la zone confort avec une belle puissance.  Les compositions – improvisations libres collectives sont rondement menées autour d’intentions précises et spontanément partagées qui transcendent les individualités.  Ai écouté plusieurs albums récents de Nabatov et celui-ci est sans nul doute une pièce de choix. Du free-jazz énergique en roue libre, basé sur l'écoute et profondément musical . 

Jean - Michel Van Schouwburg


NRW Jazz September 2018

Zu dem großen in Köln lebenden Pianisten Simon Nabatov hat nrwjazz sich schon häufig geäußert, seine Konzerte in unterschiedlichen Besetzungen, seine CDs ernten allesamt begeisterte Aufnahme. So auch sicherlich bei dem gerade – wieder beim rührigen Label Leo Records - erschienen Album Not Seeing Is A Flower. Es handelt sich hierbei um einen Live-Mitschnitt, den Simon Nabatov mit drei Mitstreitern in dem legendären Candy in der Nähe von Tokyo aufgenommen hat – am Ende einer zweimonatigen Asien-Tour. Die CD verdeutlicht, wie das Flüchtige eines Konzerts, erst recht das einer improvisierten Musik, den Kulminationspunkt einer gewissen Festigung erreicht, einer Vertrautheit der Mitglieder, die aus sechs gemeinsamen Konzerten in Japan resultiert. Neben Nabatov besteht das Quartett aus dem japanischen Free Jazz-Saxophonisten Akira Sakata, dem Bassisten Takashi Seo aus Tokyo und dem australischen Drummer Darren Moore, mit dem Nabatov übrigens kürzlich im Kölner Loft zu erleben war (s. nrwjazz-Review). Die sechs Tracks mit unterschiedlicher Länge und unterschiedlichem musikalischen Ausdruck eint ein hochenergetisches Ausbrechen aus tonalen Mustern. Das Nabatov-typische machtvolle Traktieren der 88 Tasten korrespondiert mit der ekstatischen Dauerexpression des Altsaxophons, Darren Morre und Takashi Seo halten diese auf einem hohen Energielevel. Ruhige, ja geradezu lyrische Besinnlichkeit entwickelt das Quartett in Retreat, die Nabatov in bluesige Farben taucht und mit allmählich steigerndem Tempo in ein Furioso steigert. Ähnlich bluesig, fast Bar-jazzig ist auch zunächst in Uncoil die musikalische Stimmung gehalten. Akira Sakatas Saxophonstimme verzerrt und demontiert dies jedoch schnell zu einer schweifenden Klagestimme, zurückhaltend begleitet von den anderen Instrumenten. Ein Bass-Solo, perkussive und verfremdet pianistische Einschübe – all dies erzeugt ein zauberhaftes klangliches Panoptikum in einer merkwürdig brodelnden Schwebe. Ritual ist ein schamanisch anmutender Gesang von Akira Sakata – Nabatovs Blitzläufe und Moores klanglich orientierte Perkussion tragen zur suggestiv-meditativen Wirkung bei. In Resolve bläst Sakata expressiv Klarinette, dem Titel entsprechend erreicht das Quartett eine losgelöste Freiheit des musikalischen Ausdrucks. Der letzte Track Abscond ist eine knapp viertelstündige Improvisations-Séance mit unterschiedlichen Temperaturen: von „heißem“ Ensemble-Spiel im ersten und letzten, von minimalistischem Klangzauber im Mittelteil. Der Album-Titel zitiert ein japanisches Sprichwort, das auf die Inkongruenz von Realität und Phantasie verweist. Die Improvisation des Quartetts, die flüchtige wunderbare Phantasiereise der vier Musiker verführt zu einer solchen der Zuhörerschaft.

Heinrich Brinkmöller-Becker


Percorsi Musicali September 2018 Italy

Registrato live durante un tour fatto in Giappone, l'ultimo cd di Simon Nabatov è un quartetto con l'illustre Akira Sakata, Takashi Seo al contrabbasso e Darren Moore alla batteria. Not seeing is a flower è un bel connubio tra il russo e Sakata soprattutto, perché porta sullo stesso piano i due stili, nettamente differenziati dei due musicisti. Da una parte il veloce, imprevedibile, libero e classico sciorinare sul piano di Simon, dall'altra le sferzate rough (meno abrasive del solito, a dire il vero) e le invenzioni narrative in real time del sassofonista giapponese. I sei pezzi sono pensati forse per una rappresentazione di free improvisation che proietta l'essenzialità dell'esplorazione sensitiva: si va per jams che cercano di sondare un costante smantellamento e ricostruzione degli umori; un modo per ripresentare idee che non disturbano ma che non vanno oltre l'energia solitamente attribuita a questi lavori, alla fine lasciandoci pretendere qualcosa in più del sentito.

Ettore Garzia


Bad Alchemy September 2018

Der Saxophonist AKIRA SAKATA, hierzulande ein Begriff, seit er mit dem Yamashita Trio 1974 in Moers, 1975 in Heidelberg und 1976 in Montreux Furore machte, zeigt in seinem 8. Jahrzehnt sich unverwüstlich bei einer Sechs-Städte-Tour mit SIMON NABATOV am Piano, TAKASHI SEO am Kontrabass und DARREN MOORE (ein Australier mit Operationsbasis in Singapur) an den Drums. Als Not Seeing Is A Flower (LR 843) eingefangen ist das bemerkenswert vielgestaltige Konzert im "Jazzspot" Candy in Chiba. Sakata zeigt alle Facetten vom unbändigen Wild Man bis zum verschmitzten Teetrinker, Seo erweist sich als flinkfingriger Krabbler mit auch finessenreichem Bogenstrich, Moore als gewiefter Reisstreuer, wuseliger Raschler und flunkernder Schrotthändler. Nabatov macht nur auf der Waage den Dicken, handelt aber mit Perlen und Quecksilber. Allerdings trifft er in Sakata einen ausgekochten Verhandlungspartner, der, wie nur Japaner es können und sich getrauen, theatralisch zedert, dass die vorgeschlagenen Preise ihm das letzte Hemd kosten würden. Natürlich kuschen da alle, und erst als er auf der Klarinette zu tirilieren anfängt, als hätte ihm der Messias persönlich gratuliert, dämmert's einem, wer da wen übers Ohr gehauen hat. Aber so wie sie den Deal feiern, scheinen alle Seiten höchst zufrieden. Als Bonus bekommt man noch eine Lektion in japanischem Temperament. Sakata mag mit Wha-ha-ha noch bessere Tage erlebt und, von Jim O'Rourke angehimmelt, mit den NowJazz-Größen aus Chicago, Oslo und London schon einen neuen Frühling genossen haben, aber der 27.11.2017 war auch ein guter Abend in bester Gesellschaft.