Here’s one of the most staggering, energetically-strenuous, bedlam-hoisting dynasties in explosive bisecting Free Jazz intensity. As independent musician’s these laureates each excel in their own immense pedigree, but as a trio entity they fused & co-founded a hulking opalescent deluge of atom splintering, non-negotiable, prolonged-pandemonium-pummel-prism & volleyed forth a massive concatenation of consistently eviscerating recordings with a reliability & emblem of quality for the most excruciatingly effusive of outbursts. Lead & founded by pianist Yosuke Yamashita, most references encountered refer to him as “The Japanese Cecil Taylor”! Taylor has clearly been a tremendous inspiration for Yosuke who has frequently eulogized him & lavished his idol with the highest of adulation as well as sharing at least one performance together. But Yosuke & indeed his trio are no epigone or second-rate plagiarists. Paired with long time affiliate saxophonist Akira Sakata, an absolute madman of screaming, implacable excoriation, manic instability & one of the most truly ferocious, precise & demolishingly devastating drummers of all time Takeo Moriyama, they unleash an unimaginably ascetic sustained avalanche of bellicosity & divine-wrath of mythical man-beast mensuration. like martial-deities, they foment an allo-secular degree of extremes, urgency, threat & sybaritic smouldering impetuosity & emotion-lead rampageous incandescence. One of the things so exciting & precious about these guys is their commitment to doing battle in the outer-limits, as in do-or-die, foot through the floor fulgurous-ferocity. There’s just no fucking around, they ALWAYS deliver, & their over-spilling magnanimity & direct & staunchly substantial application renders that charred, direct-hit satisfaction. More than anything actually, the most consecutive, tremulous & assaulting component is Takeo, who only seems to be interested in “going for guts” & enforcing his speed-fixated, mesomorphic fanaticism & budo enhanced (surely?) power, consistently collapsing the foundries & throwing their severed pieces in a million directions. His power, stamina & fury are legendary phenomenology, but also his punctilious & tight playing, with clean & vicious rolls galore shredding adversaries & obstacles. The guy even looks the part, like notorious 1960’s psycho lone gangster actor Bunko Sugiwara, aviators, Buddhist crop, flaccid fag lolling out his chops á-la tepodama-hoodlum & attire to match (perhaps a tanto in the waist-line?!). Takeo is the only member that never seems to contrite or enact remission, he’s just always killing it & enmeshes intensity even on the very rare slower/para sections. As for Sakata, this guy makes the sax screel like a banshee, constantly bursting the nerve with those high pitched strained screamers & super-fast prismic- paracemes. He endows some of the most emotive & non-rational imprecation to edge-up the instability. & of course we have Yosuke himself, definitely the most dynamic member who sometimes rides the current & plays a series of variables (rather than solely erratic & fast) & fractal techniques. When not careening all over the keys with his cohorts rankled & rash explosives, he mangles many forms of vaguely traditional & melodic motives with the drastic & dissolute free-form of aggressive improvisation & Avant-Garde. Together at full reciprocity velocity, these philippic conflagrating aiguilles of remorseless jocund excess, tearing through like some kind of biblical storm, bursting & inspissating with over-abundance & splendorous savagery just chop the blocks like nobody’s business. Amazing! & one of the best & most intense Off-Road Free Jazz experiences available.
I have grouped the albums Chiasma, Clay, Frozen Days & the Up-To Date double LP into this review. Although evidently contrasting & all totally worth owning independently, there are strong parallels & I don’t favour one over the other. versions of “Chiasma” also occur on three of these records as do two alternative takes of “Double Helix”. I will be reviewing more of the Yamashita trio’s more singular records shortly as independent entries.
Now, availabilities a bitch on these. Actually, it’s really quite awful. Most of the Yamashita Trio’s recordings were pressed in Japan (Crown, Frasco,) with what seems like dreadful international distribution (you almost never see these records outside Japan). In Europe, German labels like MPS & particularly Enja issued their own Yamashita LP’s, ALL of which I believe have never been repressed or manufactured as CD editions & remain unavailable. This dreadful & unacceptable state of affairs has no doubt lead to the highly unreasonable nescience on this profound covey & their fantastical work & releases. Yosuke also has recorded some very straight albums (you wouldn’t really think it’s the same guy) which ARE in circulation. His online album database with commercial dross like Amazon etcetera is dire & misinforming (expurgating many albums). So similar to the great Sam Rivers, who’s blandest albums are almost exclusively the ones available whilst his sensational majority & sprawling back catalogue (particularly his LP’s) are out of print, the Yamashita trio are missing many of their audience due to distribution debacles, appalling availability, misrepresentation & poor international information/promotion. Some one really needs to sort this out. For the more insistent amongst us, track this shit down. It will probably entail an international order direct to Japan, horrendous with the execrable extortionists running the post-rackets & overcharging like the crooked vampire scum-bags that they are, but if there’s ever going to be an exception, it’s for wax like this.
Clay LP-Enja Records-1974
Up-To Date DBL LP-JAW-1975
Chiasma LP-MPS Records-1975
Frozen Days LP-Crown-1974