Julian Tanaka is a very skilled and versatile clarinetist whose most notable prior recording was a sextet date led by keyboardist Michael Cain. In addition to his virtuosic piano playing, Uli Geissendoerfer is an award-winning film composer and a performer who has been heard in Latin jazz, free form improvisations, and World Music settings among other idioms.
Both musicians, who are based in Las Vegas, are certainly not afraid to take chances in their music, a trait very much on display throughout Delicious. Their set consists of free improvisations that cover a wide range. Because the two musicians listen closely to each other, the results are a series of musical short stories rather than random shots in the dark.
The first 17 selections, none of which overstay their welcome, contain plenty of variety. To name a few highlights, the opening “Auspicious Freedom” is slightly dissonant but somehow quietly soothing. “The Duke Has A Sister” is a type of ballad and is fairly melodic while “Orange Skies And Plum Clouds” features a hyper and uptempo pattern by Geissendoerfer that makes the performance quite stirring. “Well You Asked” has a conversation between the two that sounds like an argument. The somewhat catchy “Strollin’ finds Tanaka improvising a melody over the pianist’s passionate pattern. On “Odori – The Dance” and “Delicious,” Geissendoerfer utilizes his piano like a drum. The atmospheric “Someday” has wistful clarinet, a contrast to the whimsical “The Shout.” “All Over Me” is an abstract improv that hints at “All Of Me” while “Hey Monk” has quotes from a few Thelonious Monk songs including “Bemsha Swing.” The final five pieces, which are brief and mostly of lesser interest, feature Tanaka and Geissendoerfer improvising with words and vocal sounds
Overall, the performances on Delicious are intriguing, full of unexpected moments, and well worth exploring for those with open ears.
Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian
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