M. SASAJI & L.A. ALLSTARS
Masanori Sasaji-Piano with a varied personnel made up of L.A. studio players
including Ernie Watts, Vinnie Colaiuta, Alex Acuna, Jack Nimitz, Sheridan
Stokes, Gary Foster, Dean Parks, Brandon Field.
Recorded L.A.-no date given.
2. Girl Talk
3. Green Flower Street
4. My Favourite Things
5. Freedom Jazz Dance
7. The Sidewinder
8. The Look Of Love
9. Gymno Pedie (sic)
According to the cover notes Sasaji was born in Japan in 1955 and lists his
favourite musicians as Miles Davis,The Beatles and Maurice Ravel. This catholic
taste is reflected in the selections here which range, in terms of composers,
from Erik Satie to Joe Zawinul with nods to Burt Bacharach and Richard Rodgers
along the way. If one were to attempt to categorise the music on this disc
"smooth jazz" would seem to be the most appropriate currently used terminology.
Sasaji describes the performances here as his explorations of the possibilities
inherent in the Big Band format. These pieces are all arranged by him and
feature,in his words,"the world's top players."
The overall feeling of the disc is pleasant and the orchestrations have a
"student" air to them. This is not meant in a derogatory sense but there
is a quality of experimentation and an attempt, in places, to escape from
the norm without becoming at all "way out."
The performances, as one would expect with this personnel, are never less
than excellent and are, in places, inspired. As always, Ernie Watts acquits
himself admirably on "Birdland" and "Freedom Jazz Dance". There are also
good saxophone solos from Brandon Fields on "My Favourite Things" and from
Dan Higgins on "The Sidewinder" and "Gymnopedie".
"Girl Talk" is a gentle arrangement and features some pleasant muted trumpet
from Warren Luening. "The Look Of Love" is mainly a vocal showcase for Penny
Ford who, whilst not having a particularly strong voice, is well suited to
this song and offers a wistful performance.
This disc would have great appeal for the listener who appreciates "middle
of the road" music. However, there are enough bright moments to attract the
attention of any follower of contemporary big band sounds.
D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living in