Tomas Fujiwara - Triple Double

Label/Year: Firehouse 12 Records, 2017

Lineup – Tomas Fujiwara: drums; Gerald Cleaver: drums; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Brandon Seabrook: guitar. 


The Double Trio project, put together by the virtuous Boston-born, New York-based percussionist Tomas Fujiwara, inhabits the contemporary jazz panorama with a laudable degree of excellence. The band, two mirrors of the same nature, comprises a pair of horns, masterfully handled by Ralph Alessi and Taylor Ho Bynum, a pair of hooky guitars, whose barbed sounds are the fruits of the imagination of Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook, and two drums, provocatively banged by Gerald Cleaver and the bandleader himself.

Triple Double features ten tracks that morph from catchy indie rock to sparkling avant-garde jazz and vice-versa.

One can admire the group’s suppleness right in the opening track. The ternary “Diving For Quarters” primarily strikes with a double six-string roam. A variety of snoopy sounds, from squeals to hollow tones to air notes, are thrown in by Ho Bynum, who forges an atmospheric mood before Alessi expresses his vastly articulated and melodious thoughts. He does so, having a beautifully dissonant guitar polyphony and double drumming exposure working underneath. I felt this tune as a delicate lament that gradually expands with the force of a rock song.

The lofty rhythmic patterns continue with “Blueberry Eyes”, in which Fujiwara takes on a march-like African cadence as he pushes his bandmates to create freely within the outlined structural blocks. His shimmering technique prone to syncopation can be further enjoyed on “For Alan”, a percussion duet homaging Fujiwara’s mentor Alan Dawson.

In order to subdue the vivid intensity, moments of sheer musing were prepared on pieces such as “Hurry Home B/G”, an ethereal pop song propelled by brushed drumming and tweaked by guitar effects, “Hurry Home M/T”, and “Love and Protest”. The latter composition counterbalances a dreamy vulnerability in its texture due to Halvorson’s tart slide guitar, which works in opposition to the effervescent drumming and melodic flights that relentlessly push us toward a shivering climax.
Pocket Pass” and “Decisive Shadow” bursts with avid energy and verve. The former lifts off with swift guitar embroidery, rhythmic assaults, and improvised cogitations that later take the form of a horn polyphony; the latter is a trancelike exploration filled with mesmerizing sounds, scintillating solos, and ultimately telling power chords.

To Hours” closes the session with pure fun, offering up powerful guitar pedals and surrounding voicings, unnerving flurries of rhythmic timbres, and staggering counterpoint, all in the same package.

Triple Double is a precious work, shinning more and more at every listening. It not only shows Fujiwara’s creativity at all levels but also elevates the new shapes of jazz through a refreshing originality.

        Grade  A

        Grade A

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Diving For Quarters ► 07 – Decisive Shadow ► 10 – To Hours