Mai Sugimoto: alto saxophone, clarinet; Andrew Trim: guitar; Jason Stein: bass clarinet; Charles Rumback: drums.
I had an amazing surprise with Hanami, a Chicago-based bassless quartet co-led by guitarist Andrew Trim and multi-reedist Mai Sugimoto, who first joined as a duo for a one-off concert that served to help the victims of Japan’s Tohoku tsunami. Both lived in Japan before, and the melodic influences of that Asian country are identifiable throughout their sophomore album. They mixed them with several other such as heavy rock, punk, blues, Japanese folk, and modern jazz.
The title track erupts with the conductive bass clarinet of Stein, who becomes more adventurous as the time passes, boosted by Rumbach’s bright drumming.
“Shira Ito No Taki” is a sorrowful and articulated tune that carries Oriental flavors in the melody.
If “Donmai!” boasts a dirty rock guitar enveloped in distortion, “Kita Nagano Motorcycle Gang”, a 3-minute riotous movement of indisputable energy, raises those levels of irreverence through disquiet guitar sounds, violent drumming, and untamable horns.
Things calm down again with “Hanaikada” where the drummer’s gentle brushwork binds with Trim’s atmospheric chords, hosting the reedists’ simultaneous improvisations. Trim returns to power chords in “Kanzemizu”, and the album becomes complete with the stepwise “Kojo No Tsuki” in its a more classic jazz approach.
Hanami evinces an impressive unity and a distinctive sound that make their excursions more vibrant than other bands within the same genre.
04 – Kita Nagano Motorcycle Gang ► 05 – Hanakaida ► 06 – Kanzemizu