Kaoru Abe
Solo, Thursday Evening 1972 [Mokuyoubi no yoru ]
PSF. Records : 1995

KA, alto sax.

Summer may be about to kick into full swing, but before people head off into holiday weekends, short Fridays, and beach sojourns — here’s something to serve as a palette cleanser. Think of this track as a tonic to clear all the residual bad shit out of your system and leave you tuned up and raring for another 5,000 miles. No, really, you’ll thank us after.

Japanese saxophonist Kaoru Abe has a rep as one of the most sonically extreme jazz musicians — see our previous entries for more info on that. We’d like to point out that he’s laid down some ravishing lyrical sides, but we’re not playing against type with this coruscating solo track from his 1972 heyday (July 13th, to be precise). The few seconds of silence that introduce this 11:00 minute blitz are there to steel the listener for the onslaught. Are you sure you’re ready?

One of the remarkable things about this track is its sustained intensity. Although the solo travels through various modes, there’s the sense the entire thing emanates from a single breath — and impulse. Abe begins with a scream and goes from there, not so much see-sawing between ideas as power sawing. The performance is a series of spirals, shocks, and jolts. Clenched-asshole music. Passive listening is not possible.

Some highlights: The emotive paint-peeling squawks at 3:35 mark; the braying buzz around 6:50; the piercing tones around 9:00 where it sounds like a flock of angels are having their tongues cut out.  And when he hushes around the 10:40 mark to whisper some sweet nothings…if you think he’s going out that way, guess again.

When the performance is over, what sounds like an infinitesimal audience applauds softly. Kaoru Abe has brought the universe crashing down around their feet like Samson and that’s the best they can do? No matter. Abe takes it in stride and starts off the next piece by working out some abrasive variations on “Fly Me to the Moon.”

We recommend buying this album from PSF.

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