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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.


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


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.