Gato Libre | DuDu | Libra Records

libra records 104-035

Natsuki Tamura – trumpet | Yasuko Kaneko – trombone | Kazuhiko Tsumura – guitar | Satoko Fujii – accordion

Recorded and mixed on June 18, 2013 by Holger Zimmermann of Picnicrecords Soundlab Berlin. Mastered on August 21, 2013 by Max Ross at Systems Two, New York. Executive producer: Satoko Fujii. Artwork & design:  Masako Tanaka. Photo: Holger Zimmermann.

Tracklist: 1. DuDu [6:05] 2. Gato [6:13] 3. Nanook [7:25] 4. Rainy Day [8:22] 5. Scramble [5:33] 6. Mouse [6:46] 7. Cirencester [8:49] 8. B&B [5:40]

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Gato Libre ran aground when our bass player, Norikatsu Koreyasu, passed away suddenly. I was not sure what to do, but decided to continue the band and invited a different guest player to sit in with us every time we performed.

When Yasuko Kaneko performed with the band, it felt right. Her trombone timbre matched the band well and she has a sweet and wonderful personality. I invited her again and then I decided to ask her to become part of Gato Libre.

We restarted the Gato Libre quartet with strange instrumentation – trumpet, trombone, accordion and guitar. When I compose I think about this new instrumentation so the music is now different from before. I hope you enjoy the strange newborn Gato Libre. — Natsuki Tamura

Gato Libre | DuDu | libra records

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2 thoughts on “Gato Libre | DuDu | Libra Records

  1. The fifth album by Gato Libre, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura’s acoustic quartet, is the first since the sudden death of bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu in 2011. Having thought long and hard about whether to continue, Tamura recruited trombonist Yasuko Kaneko as a replacement. While the European folk music inspiration of previous outings like Shiro (Libra Records, 2009) and Forever (Libra Records, 2012) remains intact, the change has engendered more the feel of a chamber outfit, albeit one at times crossed with a brass band. There can be few other units which combine such an unlikely array of instruments in pursuit of such a wide ranging but focused goal.

    Tamura’s love of putting strange noises to musical ends manifests itself in squeals, squeaks, exhalations and mutters, mixed and morphed from Spanish-tinged fanfares and tumbling declamatory runs. Newcomer Kaneko brings a clean-toned mellow approach which both blends with the leader’s lyricism but also offers a grounding contrast to his more adventurous flights. Satoko Fujii, on accordion rather than her customary piano in this ensemble, adds a shimmering orchestral dimension, while on guitar Kazuhiko Tsumura incisively picks gentle strums and rippling arpeggios which impart forward motion to the arrangements, although he becomes an increasingly dominant presence as the program progresses.

    Tamura frequently deploys guitar and accordion to set out the chief structural elements within the open sound he seeks. Only the spare and wistful “Rainy Day” starts with other than an unaccompanied statement, and often just one or two voices hold sway at a time, sometimes choreographed in interlocking parts or emphatic riffs, but on other occasions joshing in looser configurations. On “Mouse” Tamura juxtaposes a series of solo proclamations to create a nervy whole, illuminated by a driving trumpet motif midway through and a scrabbling guitar episode reminiscent of Derek Bailey. Nonetheless, an attractive minor key melodicism pervades the set with extended techniques artfully integrated, exemplified by the trumpeter in his introduction to the intricate “Nanook,” in an enjoyable and compelling realization of a singular vision.

  2. There are a lot of high energy, wild and out there sounds screaming around in Natuski Tamura’s discography—the explosively electric Hada Hada (Libra Records, 2002), the sizzling Exit (Libra Records, 2004), and any number of unfettered collaborations with his wife, pianist Satoko Fujii. But his Gato Libre discs are one of the Japanese trumpeter’s more laid-back methods of expression. An acoustic quartet that explores European folk themes in a tranquil and occasionally off-center way, the five previous sets by the group are some of Tamura’s most approachable and prettiest music.

    Bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu—an an integral part of Gato Libre’s sound—passed away unexpectedly in 2011, and the decision to be made was: disband or carry on with a different instrumentalist in Koreyasu’s place. The bassist also anchored Satoko Fujii’s Ma-Do ensemble, and the choice there was to disband. But Tamura wanted to try out new instrumentalists to determine if survival was a possibility for Gato Libre.

    As it turns out, the cat survived, with the addition of Japanese trombonist it Yasuko Kaneko, who joins trumpeter Tamura and Fujii—on accordion rather than piano, as on all the Gato Libre discs—and guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura for the group’s sixth offering, DuDu.

    The change in sound and attitude of the free cat isn’t a major one. The trombone takes the bass part at times, and also offers up some fluid solos. The guitar slips in evoking visions of Spain, and the accordion swells up behind Tamura’s straight forward trumpet tone. It sounds like a busker crew on a street corner in Paris or Barcelona or, at times, in the Twilight Zone. Tamura is not an instrumentalist to be defined by traditional sounds. He slips—not often and not distractingly—from a beautiful open horn tone into flutters or squeals, or the hiss and sputter that brings to mind air escaping with a grainy squeal from the untied and stretched wide neck of a rubber balloon, followed by a string of pensive, spare, lovely single notes on the guitar with Fujii’s accordion sighing sweetly, almost subliminally, in the background.

    That Natsuki Tamura’s Gato Libre. The cat lives on.

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