Friday, January 3, 2014
Arthur Doyle, Takashi Mizutani, Sabu Toyozumi - Live In Japan 1997 (Qbico, 2003)
Arthur Doyle is a free jazz legend, his now (relatively) famous 1978 LP "Alabama Feeling" goes for upwards of $500 (when you can actually find it for sale) and is listed by Thurston Moore as one of his favorite free jazz record of all time. Doyle is a wild man on the sax, taking even the fiery playing of guys like Albert Ayler and pushing it to its breaking point, for better or worse. Takashi Mizutani is best known for his work with Les Rallizes Denudes, possibly the most fabled and best of all psychedelic Japanese rock bands, which says a lot. Mizutani basically took what bands like The Velvet Underground were doing with their multi-media shows and turned it up to 11, while simultaneously creating a formula that generations of psychedelic and hard rock, even noise, bands would emulate all over the world. His guitar work is one of the most copied styles out there. Part of Mizutani and LRD's appeal is their extreme aversion to creating anything commercially viable (most of their releases are fan made bootlegs from concerts), creating a mythology that few bands come close to matching. Apparently, this concert was the last time Mizutani was seen in public. Finally, Sabu Toyozumi is a Japanese free drumming legend. He has held down the fort for Japan's wildest sax player, Kaoru Abe, no small feat. He also did amazing work in Masayuki Takayanagi's New Direction band, again working interplay into holding down the rhythm for one of the world's most dynamic guitarists. Given his background work with an explosive sax player and an unorthodox guitarist, he seems like the perfect drummer to work with Doyle and Mizutani.
Personally, Mizutani and LRD are one of my favorite acts of all time, and while I'm not as versed in Doyle's discography, I love the 2-3 albums of his I've heard. Furthermore, I have always been a Kaoru Abe and Takanyanagi fan, and Toyozumi's work with both of these artists is some of the finest free drumming I've ever heard. Thus, this LP is like a personal blue jeans cream dream, on paper at least. Add the fact that it was put out by kind of makes me wonder how dumb I was to never have heard of this album. Any way, it's now way out of print and probably worth upwards of $100, but there is plenty of help via google, so lets dive in.
The playing on this is very "free" to say the least. Lets just go ahead and say that it's not going to be as good as everything these artists did in their prime added together and smushed down into a LP. The sum is not always greater than the parts, but it has it's moments. Mizutani really pins down Toyozumi's drumming and Doyle's fire skronk in a lot of places, using feedback and sustained notes to create atmosphere under the chaos. In other parts, my favorite parts, Toyozumi really gets a groove going and lets Mizutani do what he does best, going HAM over the groove with controlled guitar playing that balances between melody and atonality. And there are even sections where Toyozumi gets a chance to just drum solo like a maniac.
It's good stuff, not the kind of canon type record the names imply it to be, but when are supergroups ever better than their member's original output? It does rock and roll and is a real enjoyable listen (especially the second LP). If you have any interest in any of the guys in this group, check it out.