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Featured Artist: Tatsu Aoki, Robbie Lynn Hunsinger and Joseph Jarman

CD Title: Trio

Year: 2003

Record Label: Melungeon

Style: Free Jazz / Avante Garde

Musicians: Tatsu Aoki (bass), Robbie Lynn Hunsinger (reeds), Joseph Jarman (reeds, percussion).

Review: Trio is a wonderful recording from Chicago-based bassist Tatsu Aoki, reed player and oboist Robbie Lynn Hunsinger, and multi reed player and percussionist Joseph Jarman, The 10-songs sidestep convention as agilely as Gene Kelly dodged raindrops. The instruments utilized to convey this enchanting and emotionally charged music are well chosen and thoughtfully played. From the opening quiet soprano sax/alto clarinet/chanting bass (underscored by shaker) interplay on the opening “Consequence,” a serene, yet stimulating mood is set. Jarman’s kalimba and Hunsinger’s buzzing and darting silver clarinet on “Larsen B,” with Aoki’s barely perceptible bass, and Aoki’s call-to-service bass line sharing space and time with Hunsinger’s English Horn and Jarman’s flute, percussion rattle and Chinese small cymbals on “Cape of Needles” are transformative.

This is a meditative, gossamer and yet strong-willed music. Aoki has a touch as deft as Charlie Haden’s and as adventurous as Dave Holland’s. Hunsinger, who works with the Chicago Symphony and a local country band concurrently, also lists Cassandra Wilson on her resume. Jarman, a co-founder of the AACM and Art Ensemble of Chicago, is a foundational member of the international free jazz community. Together, they weave a powerful musical tapestry. On “Powerhouse,” Jarman and Hunsinger both play delicate, impish, playful altos, while on “LD 50” Hunsinger introduces the beautifully played shenai, an Indian oboe, played counterpoint to Jarman’s bass flute (and thumb piano) and Aoki’s slowly bowed bass. “Dryad,” with oboe that is alternately quiet and squeaky played along side bass flute, strikes an interesting tone with Jarman’s humming through the flute; “Hornswoggled” opens with a Chinese oboe (sona) moving to the darker oboe, while Jarman’s percussion and Aoki’s arco work lift, support and enhance the explorations. “eye to eye,” a fascinating oboe and bass clarinet dance again features Aoki’s understated yet buoyant bass. “Procession” begins with Hunsinger on the sona, then shenai, in tandem with Jarman’s bass clarinet. “Requiem,” the closing number, sets a motif with Jarman’s gorgeous bass clarinet and Aoki’s complex bass in an intricate crosspatch over which Hunsinger darts quickly in and out on shenai. Throughout, Aoki anchors, cajoles and compliments the reed players with articulate and thoughtful phrasing. The music remains challenging and stimulating throughout and this strikes me as simply one of the most superb collections of music to come through the door in a long while. Highly recommended for those with adventurous ears. If your hip local music emporium doesn't handle it, try vergemusic.com

Reviewed by: Mark E. Gallo

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