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Review by Scott Yanow: Geoff Goodman - Jazz & Haiku

07-08-2013 Review by Scott Yanow: Geoff Goodman - Jazz & Haiku

Geoff Goodman’s Jazz & Haiku (DMCHR 71089) combines a jazz quartet with vocals and recitations of Japanese haiku.

This is a very unusual and unique recording. For probably the first time in jazz history, Japanese storytelling (the haiku) has been recorded in a jazz setting. Guitarist Geoff Goodman included two or three examples of haiku (which are generally pretty brief) during each jazz performance on this CD. The words are spoken and/or sung in both Japanese and English. Fjoralba Turku takes the vocals while Kiyomi does the recitations. Most of the texts were written 350 years ago by Matsuo Basho (1655-1694) who is considered the master of the form. In addition there are a few haiju from two writers of the 1700’s: Yosa Buson and Kobayashi Issa. Their subjects mostly have to do with nature and the words are quite picturesque and timeless, with each syllable counting.
          
The speaker and singer are joined by Goodman, the cool-toned Till Martin on saxophones and clarinet, bassist Henning Sieverts and drummer Bill Elgart. Performing Goodman’s compositions, there is some straight ahead jazz, some sound explorations, and some music that is unclassifiable other than saying that it is exotic world music. The instrumentalists are all sensitive to the texts and play with subtlety and quiet invention. The main emphasis throughout much of Jazz + Haiku is on the words.
           
This is a consistently intriguing project.

- Scott Yanow

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