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Creative musicians from Korea are a rare breed. According to the liner
notes, when the Kang Tae-HwanSaxist Trio came to Japan to play at Tokyo
Meeting in 1985, they were a shock to those who knew about the Japanese
Free/Jazz scene & history. The Kang Tae-Hwan Trio consisted of Mr.
Hwan on alto sax, Choi Sun-Bae on trumpet and Kim Dae-Hwan on drums
& percussion. The members of Mr. Hwan’s Trio began collaborating
with established Japanese musicians like Masahiko Satoh, Motoharu
Yoshizawa and Kazutoki Umezu. Ten years after this first meeting with
the Korean & Japanese musicians, this concert was recorded at
Romanisches Cafe in Roppongi, Tokyo. The quartet is half Korean, Sun Bae
and Dae Hwan, and half Japanese: Junji Hirose and Motorharu Yoshizawa.
You should recognize the name Motoharu Yoshizawa fro his work with Derek
Bailey, Steve Lacy and Evan Parker. Saxist Junji Hirose has worked in
Ground Zero, as well as with Masahiko Togashi (drums) and Kasuhisa
Uchihashi (guitar & daxophone).
The long opening piece is for trumpet and 5-string bass. Trumpeter, Choi Sun Bae, is off and soaring quickly, his playing pretty intense and creative. The liner notes which were written by the owner of the cafe where this was recorded states that since there are so few musicians in Korea that play free music, the musicians must invent their own language, based in part from Korean folk melodies. There are series and duos and trio sections here, giving each of there four musicians time to stretch out, experiment and interact on several levels. In the first long section, Mr. Sun Bae’s trumpet and Mr. Yoshizawa’a bowed bass quietly interact and then build in intensity as the piece evolves. It times, Sun Bae reminds me of Nate Wooley as he works his way through different extended or odd sounds and pulls off those crazed blasts that Toshinori Kondo used to do in the 1980’s. This is following by an extraordinary tenor sax and trumpet duo, fire music, free/jazz nirvana eventually calming down to a more cerebral conclusion. Kim Dae Hwan’s percussion is featured next and we can see a picture of his unique set-up in the booklet: two cymbals and two drums, one a traditional Korean drums of some sort. Mr. Hwan’s solo sounds like it comes from the traditional Kodo style. There is another section where the trumpet and soprano sax start exchanging lines at an astonishing pace, making it hard to tell who is who. Mr. Yoshizawa sounds especially fine creating dark drones underneath bowing slowly and adding some electronics to make things a bit murky, a great cushion what the fireworks above. What is amazing about this disc, this quartet is how well these four musicians work together. An incredible international alliance which crosses borders and is united in spirits. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG