Someone once said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and they were probably right. But let’s try it anyway.
Motoharu Yoshizawa was a Japanese Free Jazz bassist who has an extensive, and excellent catalogue of music. At a later date I will write a more detailed piece on the musician, but for the purpose of this piece I will be focusing on two of his improvisations. Basically because it is some of my favourite music and I want to write about it.
The two improvisations feature on the album “Inland Fish”, recording in 1974 and released in 1975, being reissued in 2003. The two tracks I will be focusing on are “Mado – Window” and Fragment 1, numbers 2 and 3 on the album, The album in total has 4 tracks. The other tracks are “Inland Fish” and “Correspondence”, a duo recording with drummer Yoshisaburoh “Sabu” Toyozumi, another giant of the Japanese Free scene.
There are multiple reasons why I want to highlight these improvisations. The way they differ comprehensively from the common perception of free music, they way they sound and the simple fact that this is excellent music that deserves more listeners.
Even as a fan of free jazz/free improv I can admit that when people think of free music, they imagine a vast amount of noise emitted by pretentious nitwits posing as musicians. And is some cases, this is true. Only in some cases though. But for people who view free music as an impenetrable fortress of noise, never fear! For here is Motoharu Yoshizawa here to save the day, like a Japanese bass playing version of Batman, or Godzilla fighting off King Ghidorah.
Video uploaded onto to YouTube by leoncusto2008. Check out his/her channel, some great stuff on there.
Of the two pieces of music on that video, “Mado – Window” is the first piece and the bass is plucked, and the second piece is “Fragment – 1” and the bass is bowed, with some plucking.
Some things stand out about the two pieces of music presented here. Firstly the way it sounds. Throughout the entire history of music, it is hard to find anything that sounds that beautiful. I am trying to find a word to add to beautiful i.e heartbreaking beautiful but there is no point in doing that. The tone of his bass is as pure as beauty can get in a musical sense. Seriously, this music has as much soul as an Otis Redding record. Not in a visceral way, but in its sincerity and resonance.
Secondly its simplicity. Granted, I am a tone-deaf musical simpleton but it sounds to me that this music is extremely simple. Motoharu Yoshizawa is using the minimum amount of music (not in a lazy way) to make the maximum amount of impact on the listener. Nothing excessive and nothing wasted.
Thirdly the length of both pieces. They don’t over stay there welcome. “Mado – Window” lasts 5 minutes and 57 seconds and “Fragment 1” about 3 minutes and 45 seconds. The length of “Mado – Window” is particularly well judged. It allows Motoharu Yoshizawa to settle into an excellent, almost hypnotic groove. The effect of this is that the music seems to go on forever, but in a good way. It sounds so good that the listener is willing to allow the music to go on for eternity.
And in fourth and final place, it is simply outstanding music and a tribute to Motoharu Yoshizawa the musician. As far as I can tell, this is all freely improvised music in front of a live audience. To create such music from scratch on stage requires an immense amount of talent and for that alone Motoharu Yoshizawa deserves your respect.
And there you have it. Outstanding free music performed by a transcendent musician who more people should know about. Seriously, his Facebook page has 9 likes, including me.
I throughly enjoyed writing this, though I fear I may have accused people of being simpletons in regards to free music. If I have, I am terribly sorry as I never meant to and I hate people doing that. I will change that paragraph if this is the case.