Escape from Coolsville

Masabumi Kikuchi and Gil Evans
Masabumi Kikuchi + Gil Evans
EmArcy/Nippon : 1972

MK, keyboards; GE, piano, arranger; Billy Harper, tenor saxophone, flute, chime; “Hannibal” Marvin Peterson, Kunitoshi Shinohara, and Takehisa Suzuki, trumpet, flugelhorn; Kohsuke Mine, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Shigeo Suzuki, alto saxophone, flute; Kikuzo Tado, tuba; Nao Yamamoto and Kiyoshige Matsubara, french horn; Horoshi Munekiyo, trombone; Tadataka Nakazawa, bass trombone; Yukio Etoh, Masami Nakagawa, and Takashi Asahi, piccolo, alto flute, bass flute; Masyuki Takayanagi and Sadanori Nakamura, guitar; Isao Etoh and Yoshio Suzuki, bass; Kohichi Yamaguchi, timpani; Michiko Takahashi, marimba, vibes; Hideo Miyata, percussion; Yoshiyuki Nakamura and Masahiko Togashi, drums.

It would be wiser to pass out on the couch and forget the entire evening, but she decides to put on a record instead. She searches for something with a hushed late night vibe. In a fit of perversity, she grabs one of the old albums her ex-boyfriend Carton left behind. Two unfamiliar names: Masabumi Kikuchi and Gil Evans. But this is that jazz album Carlton said reminded him of her. He described the music as rare and exotic although she never paid much attention, figuring he was simply fixated on the combination of East and West. He tended to treat anything Japanese as if it inhabited a different and cooler planet. To her, the vinyl gives off a strong whiff of Orientalism. She figures it was another one of his hip collectibles. Another au courant lifestyle accessory. Just like she had been.

But she’s in a self-loathing mood and drops the needle on the record. Maybe she’s still a little drunk but there’s a woozy vibe to “Priestess” that makes her shut her eyes and listen closer. She can hear why Carlton liked this, but she also detects something else. It’s more than the unusual use of the big band, the familiar sound palette that’s been reconstructed to sound strange, the tones seeming fuzzy and smeared. She hones in on the sensual quality. The music almost fetishizes beauty and sexiness, but where those would be surface attributes in other songs here they come across as something spiritual. This music is secretly soulful, discreetly tapping into something deeper. And she’s pretty sure that is exactly what Carlton couldn’t hear.

As the wee hours of the morning unfold, she plays the slow-motion ballad “Drizzling Rain” again and again. It strikes her as the sound of interior weather, a low-pressure front of emotional precipitation, a mirrored reflection of the tears she hopes a shitfaced Carlton is wiping away somewhere across town at this very hour.

Category Gil Evans, Masabumi Kikuchi

9 Responses to Escape from Coolsville

  1. This was my first download attempt since you changed servers, and I am sorry to say (because I like the music!) that it has taken me back to the bad old days of repeated timeout problems.

  2. Wow, great post. The music and text work together in creating an “atmosphere.” It probably helps that I love Gil Evans.

  3. I second that. Lovely post. (No server problems here either.)

  4. Carlton, you jackass! Never leave behind your records. Especially not one that sounds as good as this.

    Gorgeous! Gil is the MAN! What colors he could paint. About a year ago I read a great Gil bio called “Gil Evans : out of the cool : his life and music” by Stephanie Stein Crease (Chicago: A capella 2002). The book is incredibly insightful, detailing pretty much every recording and arrangement that Gil was involved with, while also painting an endearing portrait of the man as well as the artist. A great read if you like Gil Evans.

    Anyone ever heard the Evans 1975 album “There Comes A Time?” (I have the LP which includes’ Hannibal’s “Aftermath: the Fourth Movement Children of the Fire” while the cd reissue does not though it does include several bonus tracks which weren’t on the LP). Billy Harper’s ungodly huge sound graces that one as well. As does Hannibal’s singing. Bad!

    Thanks D:O and shame on you, Carlton!

  5. “In a fit of perversity, she grabs one of the old albums her ex-boyfriend Carton left behind.”

    What kind of a name is Carton anyway?

  6. Carton is the perfect name for such an obvious crate digger!

    Or for a spell checker, maybe.

  7. Is that another example of Japanese musicians being a little behind the curve (for better or worse) ? Had Gil not begun making more cacophonous, rock-influenced music by ’72? Or not yet? Googling reminds me that Svengali came out in ’73.

  8. Gil’s arrangements always manage to make me melt, and these tracks are no exception. What a way to start my morning.

    Trumpet Bart – I will be searching out that book immediately.

  9. Listening to that tune, I think I know that woman.