Shinya Fuyiomori Trio ‘For 2 Akis’ (ECM) 4/5

Japanese jazz musicians seldom receive their due in the West so it is with great pleasure that Manfred Eicher has placed his faith in drummer and leader Shinya Fuyiomori of a youthful trio comprising pianist Walter Lang and French tenor saxophonist Matthieu Bordanare, the latter coming across as a composite of his countryman Barney Wilen and of Stan Getz. This album is the typically ECM terrain of succeeding in being esoteric on the one hand and lyrical on the other. As whole, it has an impressonistic feel with shades of classical influences, most notably Erik Satie. If the unusual line-up is devoid of any double bass, you do not really miss it which is testimony to the cohesive nature of the trio. The all original compositions are divided up between band members and, although several have Japanese titles. they are not overtly influenced by the Japanese folk tradition, even though imagery seems to be a constant throughout most of Japanese art, be it audio or visual. A delightful title track number has pianist and tenorist duetting over a beautiful melody, with the plaintive tone of Bordanare recalling Getz, and the percussive accompaniment is sensitive. A repetitive minimalist piano riff is a feature of, ‘Hoshi moguri nouta’, which opens up the album and has a subtle nod to the music of Jan Garbarek. Another minimalist number, ‘Ai san sai’, has a quasi-religious undertone and Lang takes the limelight, while on the pianist’s own composition, ‘No goodbye’, an elongated solo provides the backdrop for some gentle wailing from Bordanare. Lyrisicm is the order of the day on this recording which was made at La Buissonne, but could just as easily have been conceived in Kyoto.

Tim Stenhouse