Live in Tokyo is an album made by one of the most stellar bands
in the history of the planet. Steps Ahead recorded this back in
1986 with the following personell:
All of the tunes
on this album
are amazing. The guys simply mesh together
perfectly! Even on Safari
, where there is obviously a sequencer playing,
the tune still maintains an artistic
and human quality that is so
characteristic of this band.
Beiruit is the lead off tune that came from the last album that
inspired the tour, "Magnetic". It's almost 10 minutes long and features
Brecker and Mainieri on two unbelievable solos! Brecker's EWI solo starts
off low and ominous but as the band picks up, he follows them and they
follow him. Before you know it, the EWI is tearin' up the room and Michael
is creating some of the most amazing noise you've ever heard. I am
possibly Brecker's biggest fan but I have to say that Mainieri outdid him
on this tune! Mike plays an amazing solo with shape comparable to
Brecker's but with rythmic and harmonic complexity that just forces you to
tune out everything else around you and concentrate on what's happening.
It's truly wild.
Oops is the second tune and Brecker switches from EWI to Tenor,
which is the same deal as on the tune's original album, "Modern Times".
Mike Stern throws a solo out on this one that's classic Stern... not
something I'm really a fan of, but if it floats your boat then you'll have
a good time with it. Brecker's solo isn't his best, but it doesn't have to
be to keep you interested.
Self Portrait is next, also from "Modern Times". Twice in this
tune Mainieri's solo hits a note during his solo that is so
outside I cringed when I heard it -- I mean, it just
sits there for a fraction of a second, but it feels like an eon...
but gods always have a way of showing you how much sense it makes just a
few notes later. The guy's amazing. The conversation that happens between
Brecker and Mainieri in this tune is also something pretty damned cool...
listen for it!
Sumo follows (originally found on "Magnetic") and starts out with
Brecker on EWI laying down that wicked bass counterpoint that is just a
blast to play! I never really fell in love with the head on this tune, but
the counterplay between the melody and the bass is something to keep you
interested. Solos are amazing, as usual, but Brecker just started out too
hard for me here... he and the band ease into the same headspace as time
progresses but they just weren't together at the start of it... too bad.
Cajun originaly came from "Magnetic" and is a wierd tune. :) I
never really was able to figure out if Brecker was tonguing all of those
notes or if the synthesizer was doing it. There's a book out with these
tunes transcribed, along with Brecker's solos, but it just isn't clear on
it whether the EWI does it or Brecker does. By the notes written down, you
tongue it, but I just can't see it happening on the EWI. But then... I'm
no Michael Brecker. :)
Safari is the tune with the obvious use of the sequencer. It's
possible a sequencer was used in other tunes but I can't really tell. This
tune didn't hook me as hard as I would have hoped -- the original, although
more mechanical, actually turns out to be better. The Stern solo is
actually pretty damned cool though. Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of
Stern's improv work (his writing is a totally different story, though)
but this one hooks you.
In a Sentimental Mood is one of the best tunes on this disc!
It's actually the reason I bought an EWI in the first place. The feeling
that Brecker tosses into this mess of circuits is simply phenomenal. I
honestly have never heard a synthesizer sound more lyrical or beautiful in
my entire life. I've listened to this thing dozens of times and have yet
to get, even slightly bored.
Trains gets slid into directly from In a Sentimental Mood
as Brecker changes keys beautifully just at the end. Trains never really
starts going until Brecker's solo starts, but once that point is hit this
tune starts to move! Hell, even Stern's got a great one in this :)
This album is honestly one of the most wicked albums ever recorded. If
you're a fan of this stuff and you don't have this album, you're not doing
yourself any favours!