Tatsuya Nakatani - Smoke and Mirrors Art Gallery - 4/3/12

Tatsuya Nakatani Smoke and Mirrors Art Gallery Tuesday, April 3

Drummer Stefan Gonzalez and saxophonist Mike Forbes opened last night's intimate gig at Smoke and Mirrors, which I was bummed I missed, but Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani more than made up for it. He is a natural force, and it was an appropriate bookend to a day when natural force was the overarching theme.

His arsenal contained two gongs, and he started with the large one, rowing a bow over it in the most meditative manner, creating a low hum.This was the opening credits. He then turned his attention to a floor tom and snare, plus an assortment of items like bowls, mallets and whisks. What was once gong meditation had slowly become a clamorous affair, with Nakatani furiously throwing at least half a dozen clattering agents onto his kit. The scene had changed, and he let us know: This was the dramatic tension.

I remember seeing Nakatani at Church of the Friendly Ghost a few years ago, and his seemed the freest interpretation of free jazz I'd ever witnessed. It was improvisation approached in scenes and textures, and the box that held his menagerie of noise augmenters was fully pillaged. He used his small space efficiently, making the most possible noise with what was at hand.

For the closing scene, he ended back where he started, at the big gong, eyes closed, bowing with two bows. He was dripping sweat from his brow, which in turn formed a puddle around his feet, an extension of the circuity of it all.

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