At Kühlspot
(577 Records)

The Takatsuki Trio Quartett takes the first part of its name from the Japanese city that rests equidistant between Osaka and Kyoto. It takes the second part — the paradoxical part — from its gig format. Besides the core trio of players (pianist Rieko Okuda, bassist Antti Virtaranta and guitarist Joshua Weitzel), the Quartett features an invited musician, usually a horn player, in hypnotic, long-form spontaneous compositions. The group’s latest release, At Kühlspot, on Brooklyn’s 577 Records, is a live recording of one such date with altoist Silke Eberhard, from August 2020.

Eberhard met up with the trio for a set at the Kühlspot Social Club in Berlin, just as live music in Germany was slowly returning after the pandemic lockdown. Reflecting the tentative re-emergence of the music scene, perhaps, the one-track recording from this set opens with breathy, exploratory sounds — barely there at all. But before too long this reserve gives way to densely packed unruliness, as the players take turns predominating in the polychromatic maelstrom.

Okuda, who favors quick, tactile movement, tends to pair off with Eberhard, the most likely of the four to insert melody into her improvisation. Weitzel and Virtaranta, responsible for the deeper colors in the mix, often provide the one element — an electronic plaint or a clacking pulse, for example — that emerges from the fray. Throughout, though, it’s the moments of unexpected meditation that stand out, as when the group slows to redirect. In these pauses you can hear the next idea as it sweeps in and races through the players’ imaginations.

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January 2023
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