KBB - Live 2004

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Poseidon
Catalog Number: PRF-025
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:32:00

The music that Japanese quartet KBB creates is a potent mix of jazz, rock, symphonic, Celtic, classical and spacerock? each to varying degrees (and that latter the least). They create this mix with bass (Dani), drums/percussion (Shirou Sugano), keyboards (Toshimitsu Takahashi) and violin (Akihisa Tsuboy). Formed in 1992, they didn't release their first album, Lost And Found, until 2000, following that up in 2003 with Four Corner's Sky. This album, Live 2004, was released in 2005 and was recorded at the Silver Elephant Club in Tokyo, Japan.

If you try to define KBB "just" as a lyrical, symphonic, jazzy band based on the fabulous opening ("Discontinuous Spiral") and closing ("Hatenaki Shoudou") tracks of this live disk, you'd miss including the fiery, angular, grungy (as in dirt) "Inner Flames," which shows the quartet in smoking form (and a track not found on their two albums). Perhaps only because of the presence of a violin does the shadow of Kansas lurk about the edges (mostly in the first and last pieces), but that is only one hint as to what can be heard here. And even calling "Inner Flames" fusiony only describes part of it, because later we get spacey, and a tad Emersonian, keyboard passages. On the other hand, Tsuboy does elicit shredding, guitar-like tones from his violin (though I think some are also from the keyboards). In contrast, "Shironiji," begins as a classical-styled, elegant piece with the bass taking lead, piano and sparse percussion accompanying. In the end though, it winds up somewhere between the first two pieces.

Different again is "I Am Not Here," which has the drama of classical, but that realm explored by those composing music for Italian horror films - squeaky violin, sparse, declarative piano, sometimes frenetic percussion. Experimental in a way? Certainly in the way Tsuboy bends the strings. This evolves into jazzy textures; listen to the percussion work for example. On "Horobi No Kawa," a piece that has three parts (at least in the way it unfolds, if not formally), we get first mellow, bass-led jazz, then a violin/bass duet that is lyrical and nearly vocal in the way the two instruments sing together, then we get a more energetic section featuring (more) soaring violin leads.

My thought of spacerock enters the picture with "Nessa No Kiuku," though I'd say more it's space-Celtic. We get keyboard effects and bagpipe like violin (at least at one point). It morphs into a section where we get bass and drums rumbling together while while angry violin cuts across this ominous sound. There are spacey, organic effects strewn throughout, however. Parpier, brighter than Pink Floyd on Dark Side Of The Moon, though DTOM does come to mind. For that matter, so did Red-era King Crimson.

While it seems like they get off to an occasionally shaky start with the first track (a few audible hesitations*), but the end of this piece and into the rest of the album, they are running like a fine-tuned engine. I cannot tell if the audience fade out indicates this is a subset of the full performance and select pieces are included, or whether the crowd noise politely fades as the next track is ready to begin. Not that it is distracting, but there is no flow through to the next piece as one often hears on live releases. The sound quality is very good on this joint Posideon/Musea release (one for the Japanese market, one for the rest of the world). KBB have a great sound as a band, and since the pieces on here reflect both albums -- though mostly Four Corner's Sky -- it is a good place to start (if the studio releases aren't readily available to you. This has been one of my favorite releases to listen to this past month or so and I give it a high recommendation.

Also released by Musea Records (FGBG 4598.AR)

Discontinuous Spiral (8:45) / Inner Flames (11:55) / Shironiji (13:01) / I Am Not Here (10:51) / Horobi No Kawa (6:47) / Nessa No Kiuku (10:39) / Hatenaki Shoudou (9:34)

Akihisa Tsuboy - violin
Toshimitsu Takahashi - keyboards
Dani - bass
Shirou Sugano - drums

Lost And Found (2000)
Four Corner's Sky (2003)
Live 2004 (2005)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin JP

Added: July 13th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: tsuboy.internet.ne.jp/kbb
Hits: 869
Language: english


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