It was one of the more anticipated concerts of this year's Autumn festival in Krakow. Akira Sakata had played in Krakow once. 35 years ago. He's long been illustrous example of japanese scene - slightly obscure (most of the recent albums available only as japanese imports) yet right there at the top with the best of them. Which I was about to experience.
Sakata's playing now with a dynamic duo rhythm section of Darin Gray and Chris Corsano and that's both and intercontinental and intergenerational collaboration as they're half his age. Having said that, Akira, at 66, has an incredible energy on stage. His playing on alto is strong and heavily rooted in free jazz. His twisted sharp lines still mantain the linear narration feature of a jazz solo. He flights, rides and jumps furiously over a ferocious pulse provided by Darin and Chris. When this trio hits the stratosphere (Akira stepping up into higher register) their energy, pure musical excitation is absolutely contagious. It's the alto's sound, the maddening playing but also somewhat bluesy hint (not in the scale or melody but in deep tone, profound, cerebral way of playing music) that puts Akira right next to Ornette Coleman in my ears.
The stratosphere levels would not be possible without the support and the pushing given by Darin Gray and Chris Corsano. Absolutely fabulous rhythm section, totally in sync, freewheling storm bass pulse and hurricane rhythms behind the sax. Searching for unconventional and adventorous. Akira often leaves them on stage and those bass - drums duos, fierce, raw, essential are among the night's highlights. Especially when, as Darin prepares the bass with plastic and wood sticks, they play a percussion-only improvisation, celebratory feast of rhythm.
While mostly within free-jazz frame (with softer moments on clarinet) the duo constantly challenges the borders of the genre and crosses them quite often. For an act of vocal shamanism (expressive, throaty and deep voice by Akira singing in japanese, or shouting). Or for an extented free-impov piece, that started with Chris bowing a metal plate that, magnified through the snare's resonance, it would produce long tones filled with microchanges, detailed picture of a sound heard through microscope. And he would be joined in this sonar expedition by Darin and Akira (on clarinet), creating together a moving theatre of sound and objects.
(pictures by Krzysztof Penarski)
an excerpt from the band's recent LP release which I hope to review soon.
Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi - Wild Chickens in Lake M. (excerpt) by familyvineyard
Akira Sakata - alto saxophone, clarinet
Darin Gray - double bass (percussion)
Chris Corsano - drums, percussion
Alchemia. Krakow. 27.10.2011