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Reviews: Kazumi Watanabe, New Electric Trio - Mo' Bop

Reviews: 2

Review by eletourn March 16, 2007 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Kazumi Watanabe is a Japanese Fusion Jazz guitarist in the same vein as John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Larry Coryell. His style includes also some jazz explorations in the vein of Pat Metheny. His technique is pretty much flawless (precise, fluid, inventive - if you heard it on guitar Kazumi can do it). He has been around for quite a while and has an extensive discography including better known albums such as "Spice of Life" with Bill Bruford and Jeff Berlin, and "Kilowatt" with Alex Acuna, Wayne Shorter and Patrick Moraz. He has played with a plethora of guest musicians and this new trio is the latest incarnation of such collaboration featuring virtuoso players Richard Bona on bass & Horacio Hernandez on drums.

This SACD is a gorgeous example of the genre. Kazumi make sure to vary his guitar style and tone in order to keep the interest of the listener. The rhythm section is efficient, inventive and powerful. A good comparison for the sound of the band would include bands such as Brand X and Niacin as Watanabe often multi-track on guitar synth. If it would be the first Guitar Jazz fusion albums in the world it would easily deserve 5 stars but as most example of the genre it seems very difficult to come up with fresh new ideas and although everything is very well done you cannot escape the feeling to have heard it somewhere else. Most tracks are uptempo but for a couple of more atmospheric or meditative ones in the middle of the album to provide for a change of pace.

The stereo SACD is one of the best sounding SACD in my collection. The instruments are usually fairly stable in the soundstage but I don't sense that any special effort has been made to recreate any form of stage presence effect. The 5.1 mix is somewhat of an oddball as only 4 of the 10 tracks have been mixed in Surround. On the other hand besides a handful of panning effects the surround mix is mainly providing a more expanding and enveloping sound field although it is quite effective in this aspect.

All the Mo' Bop albums (3 SACD and 1 DVD) are categorized as compilations indicating that the trio is replaying previously available Watanabe compositions or covers but the lack of complete English discography with track listing have precluded me to confirm that. If you like the genre I recommend all those SACD's if you can find them at a reasonable price.

2003 Japanese only - 10-track HYBRID CD
Supplied in a superb LP-style gatefold card wallet picture sleeve & complete with obi-strip.

Tracklisting / Additional Info:
1 Mo' Bop 9:21 *
2 DADA 4:49
3 ROBO 5:49 *
4 Ring of Life 5:58 *
5 Backdrop 5:33
6 Naima 5:36
7 MOMO 3:26
8 NEO 4:38
9 Partida 5:21 *
10 Tricorn 5:21

* 5:1 Mixes Available on SACD portion

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Review by Barb January 20, 2008 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
K. Watanabe eg, R. Bona eb, H. Hernandez ds, ewe 2003.
The New Electric Trio plays 10 tracks of rough jazz-rock fusion. Seven compositions are Watanabe originals, two come from K. Tanikawa and Naima by Coltrane. Most of the tracks are high energy music and high speed, too. Contrary to his Guitar Renaissance series, Watanabe is playing a very aggressive electric guitar in a very improvised way. But there are also two lyrical pieces. The three guys are wizards on their instruments, each, and if you are in the mood for a hard rocking jazz session with three flipping monsters, this is the right disc.
The sound is very good, rich of colour, very good soundstage and imaging, air for the instruments to breath, very dynamic, brilliant.

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