Monday, August 6, 2012

Shingo Yuji Introducing Yujipan Music 2012

You gotta dig it for the cover art alone...

The debut release for any artist is usually fraught with peril. Try being a self taught Japanese guitarist trying to crack the American jazz scene! Introducing Shingo Yuji is an eclectic delight! Modern jazz minimalism where two cultures collide and one of the more adventurous trios is the end result.

Shingo Yuji's signature sound is do largely in part to a man he never met, Jaco Pastorius. As Yuji attempted to replicate the genius of Pastorius from bass to his own guitar his soon to be life long attachment to jazz was seemingly born. While studying only partially, Yuji can easily be considered a self-taught musician making his artistry and amazing technique that much more appreciated by six string scholars everywhere.

Yuji's trio is joined by ace tenor man Walter Smith III on the first two tracks with drummer Dan Schnelle and bassist Dave Robaire rounding out this organic trio. Shingo Yuji's skills as an arranger have turned Introducing into more of an east meets west jazz collective. "Shadows On The Sun" is a Yuji original drawn from "rhythm change" or more commonly the re-harmonization of the changes with the chords used in more traditional Japanese music. Here the melody is played from a Japanese minor scale and shows off the formidable skill of this new shooter on the jazz guitar scene. Yuji transcends genres and styles with ease as the classical influence of Debussy's later works seems to creep in to another Yuji original "A Song For One." The addition of Walter Smith III on the first two tracks was a stroke of genius. Smith's command of the lyrical development of each tune is phenomenal. There is a John Abercrombie like melodic minimalism to Yuji's clean articulated lines yet with an almost mystical Pat Metheny inspired flow to his harmonic development. Yuji does a sonic exploratory on a captivating re-harmonization of the Lennon-McCartney classic "Help." Bassist Robaire adds a three dimensional sense of texture with his solo while drummer Schnelle's finesse round out one of the better covers one may hear.

Aside from the incredible successful fusion of Japanese influences with the form and functionality of what we refer to as jazz here in the west, Yuji technique is flawless and there are no overdubs on this recording.

Other artists and groups and attempted releases that are a hybrid form or at least draw from more than one culture but Yuji has this down cold. A debut release that is remarkable for more reasons than there is space to list.

Tracks: Laputa; Shadows On The Sun; The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines; A Song For The One; Improvisation And Variations On Itsuki Lullaby (Traditional); Ame (Rain) - Interlude; Help; Rashomon.

Personnel: Shingo Yuji: guitar; Walter Smith III: saxophone (1&2); Dave Robaire: bass; Dan Schnelle: drums.