Megumi Yonezawa/Masa Kamaguchi/Ken Kobayashi

Boundary
(ESP-Disk)

This dazzling improvised session features three Japanese expats operating a bit outside of their usual inside-out milieu. Pianist Megumi Yonezawa and drummer Ken Kobayashi live in New York, working in various contexts; after finishing her studies at Berklee, the pianist played with Greg Osby and dropped a meditative trio session a few years ago. Bassist Masa Kamaguchi lives in Madrid, but makes regular trips to New York, where he’s been a steady presence in a trio with pianist Jacob Sacks and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza. Together, though, this trio has delivered a recording that eclipses all of their previous work.

Apart from the standard “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which the trio dispatches in a luxuriant sprawl, the music is collectively improvised. Throughout the recording, the group operates with exquisite patience, pushing the music forward with tender consideration, primarily driven by Yonezawa’s unsentimental lyricism and effective use of space—recalling the sound-spreading brilliance of Paul Bley. On upbeat material, like the skittering “Tremor,” she teases out crisp variations from short, pithy phrases while the rhythm section shuffles underneath. “Wavelength” adapts an almost martial drive in its insistent sense of forward motion, with Yonezawa hammering out glassy refractions.

If Boundary is a listener’s first encounter with Yonezawa, a performer who’s been on the New York scene for a significant amount of time, the album’s strength might come as a surprise. And the recording certainly should raise her profile.



On Sale Now
May 2019
Branford Marsalis
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