January 30, 2007

Mood indigo

Monday evening it was down to Shibuya for an evening of club jazz at Duo Music Exchange. The evening was billed as 'indigo jam room @duo', with a DJ set, a support act and the headliners, indigo jam unit.

After the initial DJ set, it was time for the opening act, a session featuring percussionist Kosuke Tsuji and violinist Yuji Katsui. Tsuji was hammering away at the bongos and Katsui had his violin hooked up to a computer, so he could use pedals to produce different effects. Initially this looked very promising, with some sounds akin to John Martyn's 70s echoplex guitar work, though to be honest, it got a little self-indulgent. I have a feeling that it was an improvisation session and in the 45-minute set, they played just two 'tracks'. There was no doubting their ability ~ I just wished they had broken up the set slightly with some banter or breaks.

After a second DJ set it was time for the main act, indigo jam unit. This Osaka quartet is more or less a jazz piano trio but with two drummers (one plays in a jazzy style, the other plays in a more funk-based style), and I was very impressed with their debut album demonstration last year. Some of their tracks are dancers firmly in the club jazz vein, whilst others, due to the simple yet haunting piano melodies, are almost cinematic in nature.

They launched into their largely in silhouette set backlit with purple light, and some video sequences projected onto a screen behind them. The first segment was a sequence of mid-pace tracks taken from the new album 2X2, but things really warmed up in the next section of tracks ~ the 'funky corner' ~ and by the time they played 'Ka i ka' and 'Scene - Cartain call' [sic] from last year's album the crowd was really getting into the groove.

Up to this point the drummers had been taking it in turns on different tracks, but the last segment of the concert was the 'twin drum' corner, and featured tracks where they played together. The climax was the title track of the new album where the piano melody floats effortlessly over the backing that, in the latter stages of the song, alternates from bar to bar between jazzy and funky.

There was a two track encore featuring their rework of 'Spiral Waltz' and 'Palette', both of which went down a storm.

I picked up a copy of the new CD and a T-shirt on the way out, and am thoroughly looking forward to seeing them again when they come back in May.

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