Tag Archives: Nobuyasu Furuya

Squid’s Ear review by Massimo Ricci

CF 159Nobuyasu Furuya Trio – BENDOWA (CF 159)
Armed with tenor sax, bass clarinet and flute — the latter played with galvanic fervor in the final improvisation — Nobuyasu Furuya barefacedly disrupts the canons of a recherché intellectualism typical of selected fringes of so-called “free” jazz, an attitude reflected by the succinct fluency he displays in this set with his Portuguese trio. Furuya, born in Japan, divides his life between Lisbon and Berlin; Hernani Faustino’s double bass and Gabriel Ferrandini’s drums tighten the reins of inordinate autonomy, contributing to a welcome restraint that places every detail of the mix in its optimal position for the listener to consider.

However, you just need to hear the brusque forewarnings closing the first track — all the chapters being unnamed — or the hostile outbursts found in the fourth track to discern the same channeled rage and the “fearless warrior” attitude of someone like, say, Peter Brötzmann. Even so, at the beginning of the second subdivision the junction of low-density scrape plus stroked harmonics by the rhythm section and the stern lines depicted by the leader’s flute throws us into realms where one focuses on what the musicians really have to express more than the technical aspect of things, usually with fewer notes than expected.

A healthy air of below-ground tunefulness — though not exactly suitable for sing-along purposes — emerges now and again, totally deprived of flamboyance. The systematic awareness of what waters the sonic ship is navigating is a comforting flavor in times of lost directions. When the players immerse themselves into asymmetrical pulse, Furuya stays away from otiose phraseologies without appearing conservative, still in possession of a timbral muscle allowing him to hit hard and often if necessary. Faustino and Ferrandini accompany those gestures with incorruptible solidity and nourishing rhythmic intensity. This is a trio that functions as to one to transmit artistic integrity.

All About Jazz New York review by Wilbur MacKenzie

Bit Heads Daniel Blacksberg Trio (NoBusiness)
Bendowa Nobuyasu Furuya Trio (CF 159)
Intuitivo Fernando Benadon (Innova)

While there is in increasing flood of new releases by both new and established musicians, the sheer capacity to transfer information to some degree levels the playing field and provides opportunities for those blessed with ingenuity to find support for their work. These releases are all excellent examples of new voices in the creative music world, each finding a unique channel for sharing their ideas.

Philadelphia-based trombonist Daniel Blacksberg has been active throughout the northeast in recent years, premiering works by Anthony Braxton, Gunther Schuller, Danilo Pérez and the late Steve Lacy, as well as working with many top improvisers. Lithuania’s No Business Records recently released Bit Heads, the vinyl debut of Blacksberg’s trio with fellow Philadelphiabased artists Jon Barrios (bass) and Mike Szekely (drums). A virtuosic technician with abundant creativity and a drive to engage disparate and unlikely scenarios, Blacksberg presents a strong statement as an improviser and thoughtful bandleader. Barrios and Szekely form a solid foundation, but often the trio interacts in the three-equal-parts approach reminiscent of the innovative Threadgill-McCall-Hopkins band Air. “Fanfare for a Scrambled Race” starts off, offering one of the few standard head-three solos-head forms on the record and is followed with “Just Shy of Hope”, an introspective mix of texture and melodic information. “Deforestation” presents a very lithe theme expounded upon with bowed bass and muted trombone, with Szekely accompanying gracefully. “The Closer” follows to take the group immediately on an exuberant excursion through a dense, high-velocity theme. The record closes with the extended improvisational forms of “Shot to the End”, the ensemble constantly shifting between solo-duotrio combinations, with fragmented melodic ideas and jagged rhythmic shifts, essentially summarizing the various sonic terrains explored throughout the preceding seven tracks.

Woodwinds and culinary delicacies are the twin areas of expertise of saxophonist/flutist Nobuyasu Furuya. Born in Japan and currently residing in Lisbon, Furuya employs the skill of a master chef in how he carefully combines colorful ingredients in his music. Bendowa features the rhythm section of the excellent Portuguese RED Trio and the group is unabashed in their affinity for the early practitioners of the avant garde (Archie Shepp and Peter Brötzmann are named specifically). The disc’s five improvisations cover many areas, often employing a zen-like sense of grace even in the most intense scenarios. There are plenty moments of great subtlety as well, a palpable sense of mindfulness in the sparse textures found in the second and third pieces. Drummer Gabriel Ferrandini mixes extremes of space, density, momentum and gesture in his thoughtful dialogues with his bandmates, always displaying impeccable taste and timing. The interactions between Furuya and bassist Hernâni Faustino are quite emphatic and the common language the two share sets the stage for a constant parade of fascinating musical conversations.

A very unusual process was used for the recording of Fernando Benadon’s Intuitivo: the music heard is the result of Benadon’s process of recording each of the seven performers individually and then cutting and pasting different sections together to make a composition using the actual recordings as the source material. Such a process calls attention to the idea of ownership as it relates to the collaborative dialogue between composer and improviser: As with Bob Ostertag’s innovative Verbatim and Say No More sampling project, the composer steps back from part of the process and all the notes are the creation of the musicians, who received no instruction prior to recording their improvisations. The composer’s work resides in the conception of the project and in the actual reconfiguration of the material into something completely new. The end result comes off remarkably cohesive – tonality is often quite distinct, tempi and dynamics are well matched and different factions of the septet sound as if they were listening to each other quite closely, rather than playing unaccompanied with no idea of what anyone else had contributed. Bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Nasar Abedey make some strong grooves happen despite working completely independently of each other and violinists Courtney Orlando and Evan Price sound perfect together. Benadon has thought a great deal about texture, painstakingly assembling different combinations of players to create variety and nuance.

Jazzword review by Ken Waxman

Nobuyasu Furuya Trio – Bendowa (CF 159)
Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi – Friendly Pants (Family Vineyard)

While this linkage of two CDs featuring Japanese-born saxophonists playing in a trio with a non-Japanese rhythm section, may appear somewhat louche, there are similarities reflected on these appealing discs of which even the two protagonists may not be aware. This is despite the reality that alto saxophonist Akira Sakata is a Nipponese Free Jazz legend, while tenor saxophonist Nobuyasu Furuya is much lesser known.

For a start each musician was initially trained in a different field: Sakata as a marine biologist and Furuya as a cook in a Zen Buddhist temple. Furuya, who lives in Lisbon, was initially attracted to baroque music, studied Turkish traditional music and played in noise, ska-core and Free Jazz groups. Today he composes for film, theatre and dance including multi-media presentations for Berlin-based Mayumi Fukzaki’s theatre company. Hiroshima-born Sakata, began playing Free Jazz 40 years ago and since then has not only worked with committed improvisers as diverse as pianist Yamashita Yosuke and bassist Bill Laswell but recorded pop-leaning records and sung Japanese folk songs. Following gigs with guitarist Jim O’Rourke, he has made three Free Jazz CDs with noise-improvisers drummer Chris Corsano and bassist Darin Gray. This is the third, plus his first North American release in two decades.

Again with a lower profile, the rhythm section which backs Furuya on Bendowa –named for the 13th century book by the founder of Soto Zen – are bassist Hernâni Faustino and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini. Instructively both sessions are anchored by the self-effacing, sometimes inaudible bass players. Solidly present at all times, Faustino and Gray are the foundation upon which the saxophonists can stretch and splinter sound principles, as well as giving the drummers freedom to decorate tunes with shuffles, rebounds and precision strokes.

Faustino is conspicuously felt but barely heard throughout all of Bendowa’s five tracks, with the most profound application of this formula on tracks “Track 3” and “Track 4”.

Over the course of both these tracks Furuya gets to play all three of his instruments. Beginning with a snorting and wavering tenor saxophone exposition, his tone becomes dissonant and wide enough to suggest tug boat horn snarls. Meanwhile Ferrandini pats and paddles his cymbals and the bassist bounces his bow sul tasto. Moving from andante to largo following an unaccompanied exposition of split tones, Furuya pitch-sliding bass clarinet runs that initially resembled wild bird calls turn strident and stressed. On “Track 4” however, his stubby, bottom-toned flute sticks to the melody line until he begins peeping and crying semi tones through the flute’s body, rather like a restrained Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Ferrandini’s polyrhythms and subtle percussion thumps plus Faustino’s scrubbing and chafing allow Furuya to return with glottal-stopped and note-swallowing tenor saxophone runs that lead to clamorous braying and a final flat line exit.

Sakata’s improvisations often also end abruptly as he evidently runs out of steam on certain tracks. But the strength of Gray and Corsano accompaniment ensure that this doesn’t sound like a falling off, but a pause to foreshadow new creativity. Having developed a distinctive tone over the years, that is part-Jackie McLean and part-Hichiriki, the saxophonist’s sound is immediately identifiable, whether he’s spiraling and swelling split tones into molten frenzy or sliding and stuttering spidery timbres in his version of a ballad.

For instance on “Yo! Yo! Dime” – all the tracks are evidently titled in distinctive Japanlish – Sakata extrudes extended reed bites that expose various thematic materials then just as abruptly cut them off before they develop further. Eventually he reaches his desired strategy – shoving so much tonal variation into his solo so that not only is every note’s root sound exposed, but also all its extensions and partials. Meantime Gray thumps unhurriedly and Corsano burns, backbeats and thwacks snares, toms and cymbals in a circular pattern. Becoming more intense with squeaking staccatissimo, Sakata’s bugle-like tattoo hardens into a discordant sonic mass then abruptly ends.

It’s the same game plan for pseudo-ballads like “That Day of Rain”. Linear and pinched, Sakata’s low-keyed trilling eventually transform into strings of pressurized notes and split-tone cries as Corsano’s casual rumbles and thumps plus sensed walking from Gray maintains the mood. It’s the saxophonist who shatters it, weighing in with glossolalia and splayed note patterns. The fortissimo climax reached is then abruptly cut off.

Obviously what can be defined as Free Jazz with a Japanese tinge still exists and thrives in that country and abroad. These CDs confirm this. http://www.jazzword.com/review/126977

All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

Nobuyasu Furuya Trio – Bendowa (CF 159)
“La musica veramente buona ti costringe a pensare ed è questo il motivo per cui non è né agevole né facile da ascoltare. I musicisti oggi si preoccupano di come apparire e non di cosa dire ed è per questo che il jazz è morto. Suonano tutti allo stesso modo. Possono avere anche un’idea o un progetto, ma non hanno anima”. Sono questi stralci, assolutamente condivisibili, del Nobuyasa Furuya pensiero riportati nelle note di copertina della sua ultima fatica discografica.

E, ad avvalorare le sue parole, il multistrumentista e valente cuoco giapponese (leggetele attentamente le note di copertina) diviso tra Berlino e Lisbona, licenzia un disco che uguali ad altri proprio non è, o forse uguale ad altri lo è nella diversità. Nella ricetta culinaria di Furuya vi si ritrovano un po’ tutti gli ingredienti che da sempre caratterizzano la cosiddetta musica creativa: energia spesso selvaggia, assoluta libertà sintattica e morfologica, tradizione come base di partenza per esplorazioni anche estreme, incroci pericolosi tra generi e stili, e via dicendo.

Ciò che contraddistingue Bendowa, titolo di un libro del maestro zen giapponese Dogen, è il profondo senso religioso, meditativo che avvolge le cinque lunghe improvvisazioni. La libertà espressiva dei tre musicisti, anche nei momenti di maggior ferocia esecutiva, è come se fosse distillata attraverso un processo di trascendenza, o avvolta da un alone mistico che elimina le scorie e filtra la purezza del messaggio musicale. L’interesse di Furuya per la musica colta di matrice europea si manifesta nella grande attenzione posta dal trio all’uso degli spazi e alla definizioni delle voci strumentali e rende questo Bendowa un opera dalle molteplici suggestioni.

Clean Feed on All About Jazz New York “Best of 2009” list

Best Record Label


Best New Release 2009
Herculaneum – Herculaneum III (CF 140)
Steve Adams Trio – Surface Tension (CF 131)

Best New Release 2009 – Honorable Mention 
Denman Maroney Quintet – Udentity (CF 137)
Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got To Change (CF 150)
Michael Blake/Kresten Osgood – Control This (CF 136)
Paul Dunmall’s Sun Quartet – Ancient and Future Airs (CF 138 )

Renku – In Coimbra (CF 162)
Steve Swell – Planet Dream (CF 148 )
Trespass Trio – “…was there to illuminate the night sky…” (CF 149)

Best Debut Release
Nobuyasu Furuya Trio – Bendowa (CF 159)

Best Original Album Artwork 
Avram Fefer – Ritual (CF 145)

Publico review by Nuno Catarino

Nobuyasu Furuya Trio  – Bendowa (CF 159)
O japonês Nobuyasu Furuya, actualmente a viver entre Berlim e Lisboa, tem feito furor nos concertos pela chama incendiária do seu saxofone tenor: ao vivo é capaz de rugidos intensíssimos, capazes de assustar fãs de noise. Mas a arte do palhetista – Furuya toca saxofone tenor, clarinete baixo e flautas – não se resume à ferocidade; além de dominar diferentes instrumentos, o japonês utiliza uma variedade de diferentes técnicas. Acompanhado por uma dupla rítmica portuguesa, Hernâni Faustino no contrabaixo e Gabriel Ferrandini na bateria, tem neste trio uma plataforma segura para explorar um jazz aberto com ascendência no “free” e ligação directa a Peter Brötzmann – e que nos momentos extremos se aproxima da fúria de um Kaoru Abe. Mas é simultaneamente capaz de uma irrepreensível contenção “zen”, especialmente quando se aplica na flauta em delicados murmúrios. Neste álbum, “Bendowa”, homenagem a um monge do século XIII, o japonês tem o apoio inteligente de uma dupla lusa que não se limita a um papel de background: complementa e interage, reage e provoca. Ferrandini é talento bruto em ascensão (aqui está vibrante e atento) e Faustino tem uma performance especialmente rica, servindo-se do contrabaixo com criatividade.

The Wire review by Phil Freeman

Nobuyasu Furuya Trio – Bendowa (CF 159)
Nobuyasu Furuya, a Japanese saxophonist now resident in Lisbon, makes his recorded debut with this excellent trio, backed by bassist Hernani Faustino and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini. Bendowa is named after a text by Zen monk Dogen that describes how to perfect the Buddhist way through the disciplined meditation know as zazen; and some passages among its five untitled improvisations are indeed meditative.

The second piece, for example, begins with bowed bass and gently caressed cymbals, in a manner that suggests an awareness of post-jazz improvisatory strategies. But Furuya’s flute playing on this track is quite disruptive, ascending from delicate puffing hiss to a full volume shriek that sounds almost like feedback.

The third piece is a Brotzmanniacal workout featuring ferocious tenor blowing as well as a middle section during which Furuya makes distressing, almost gastric sounds with the bass clarinet, while Faustino attempts to yank his instrument’s strings off, and Ferrandini offers intermittent commentary on toms and cymbals.

Indeed, throughout the disc, Faustino’s playing is practically an assault. Even when Furuya seems to be heading in the direction of traditional Japanese flute technique, as on the fourth piece, the bassist is back there strumming and bowing like Jimmy Garrison having a brain haemorrhage. This is the weakest track, if only because Furuya has a brief outburst of singing through the flute, something that must be discouraged. Excellent work overall, though, from a player worthy of free jazz fans’ attention.