The Miuymi Project Big Band: Rooted: Origins Of Now
The Jazz Institute of Chicago enrolled Southport Records and Asian Improv Records to release a work by Tatsu Aoki, which was initially commissioned by the JIC and performed at the 2001 Chicago Jazz Festival in front of a very receptive audience. "Rooted: Origins of Now" expresses Aoki's view on the development of the Asian-American community and, as such, blends elements of both musical cultures. This is also reflected in the choice of musicians, mostly Asian-Americans and Japanese, but also featuring two members of the AACM, past-chairman Mwata Bowden on baritone sax and didgeridoo and Ameen Muhamad on trumpet.
The four-part suite is constructed upon simple and, for the most part, propulsive rhythms with Bowden, Muhamad, violinist Jonathan Chen, tenor sax Toru Hironaka and alto sax Taku Akiyama playing in unison and taking turns as soloist. The improvisations are most effective when the main soloist is joined by other cohorts for some interaction either in a call-and-response fashion or in counterpoint.
The highlight is the fourth part entitled "...of Now, as Well," which starts with the single appearance by Yoko Noge singing a Japanese folk tune. The second part is introduced by galloping percussion setting two different patterns with the trap set on one hand and the taiko drums on the other. The front line joins in with the melody turning it upside down and taking it apart before reassembling it as the interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to form a colorful patchwork of sounds.
Jazz and World music fans alike will enjoy "Rooted: Origins of Now," another important chapter in Tatsu Aoki's original body of work.—Alain Drouot
Available on Southport Records, www.chicagosound.com.