Reviews that mention Akira Sakata

December 26, 2020


Dental Kafka
Trost TR 197

As members in good standing of the Free Music community the music made by the international Bonjintan quartet may surprise many people. Still of a uniform high quality, the session offers unabashed swing as energetic as any Rock groove. Surprise may be germane however. For while alto saxophonist/clarinetist Akira Sakata is one of Japan’s original Free Jazzers playing with everyone from Paal Nilssen-Love to Simon Nabatov, he often works with others players with more rhythmic orientation like the ones here. American bassist Jim O’Rourke has been in Gastor del Sol and Sonic Youth, Italian pianist Giovanni Di Domenico has worked with Chris Corsano, while Japanese drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto has recorded with Arve Henriksen. MORE

April 3, 2020

Sakata-Yermmenoglou-Di Domenico-Damiandis

el NEGOCITO eNR 091/MN 004

Clichés about music being a universal language confirm their veracity on this prime slice of free improvisation. That’s because this live performance named for an important Japanese Buddhist temple, yet recorded in a Thessaloniki, Greece club, features veteran Japanese multi-reedist Akira Sakata; Brussels-based, Italian-born pianist Giovanni Di Domenico; Thessaloniki-native, guitarist Giotis Damianidis who now lives in Brussels; and percussionist Christos Yermenoglou, who teaches music at the university in that Greek city. MORE

November 17, 2019


PNL Records PNL 045


Sol Abstraction

Sol Disk SD 1901

Axel Dörner/Toshimaru Nakanura

In Cotton and Wool

Ftarri ftarari-980

Tim Olive & Yan Jun

Brother of Divinity

845 Audio 845-10

Kang Tang Hwan/Midori Takada

An Eternal Moment

NoBusiness Records NBCD 115

Something in the Air: Japanese Improvisation Moves Far Beyond its Island Base

By Ken Waxman

March 13, 2019

Paal Nilssen-Love

New Japanese Noise
PNL Records PNL 043

Eruptive as the result of a violent coupling between bursts of Heavy Metal excesses and the boiling point of a 1960s New Thing program, New Japanese Noise readily reflects the first and third words in its title. However as proof that noise is universal, two of the players featured on the four tracks that are constantly on the point of detonating aren’t Japanese. Ostensible leader, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love is Norwegian and fiery guitarist Kiko Dinucci is Brazilian. Additionally while electronics manipulators Kohei Gomi and Toshiji Mikawa hail from Japan’s world of Noise-Rock with groups like Pain Jerk and the Incapacitants, Akira Sakata, who plays alto saxophone, clarinet and vocalizes here is an epic Japanese Free Jazzers, who has worked with numerous sound experimenters since the 1960s, and fronts a contemporary trio with Nilssen-Love. MORE

January 11, 2019

13th Annual Jazz Critics Poll Ballot

2018 NPR Music
Ken Waxman’s Selections

•Your name and primary affiliation(s)

Ken Waxman

•Your choices for this year’s 10 best New Releases

1. Steve Swell Music for Six Musicians Hommage à Olivier Messiaen (Silkheart)

2. Dave Holland/Evan Parker/Craig Taborn/Ches Smith Uncharted Territories (Dare2)

3. Roots Magic Last Kind Words (Clean Feed)

4. François Houle/Alexander Hawkins/Harris Eisenstadt You Gotta Have Options (Songlines)

5. Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore After Caroline (Northern Spy)

December 17, 2018

Akita Sakata/Simon Nabatov/Takashi Seo/Darren Moore

Not Seeing is a Flower
Leo Records CD LR 843

Simon Nabatov String Trio


Leo Records CD LR 826

From his base in Köln, Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov has built up an enviable discography partnering with many musicians on both sides of the notated/improvised divide at that German city’s The Loft and elsewhere. Two of his most recent CDs couldn’t be more dissimilar. Close to so-called contemporary music, the six Situations are the pianist’s compositions interpreted by a trio of himself, British cellist Ben Davis, who has worked with Ingrid Laubrock's International octet; and South African violist Gareth Lubbe, who was in the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. As antithetical as sauerkraut is to sushi, Not Seeing is a Flower was created on a South-Asian tour two years later. Recorded in Chiba, Japan, the half-dozen tracks are fully in the Free Jazz/Free Music axis, with the pianist working with the group in which he toured: Australian drummer Darren Moore, Tokyo-bases bassist Takashi Seo and venerable Japanese Free Jazz pioneer Akira Sakata, who plays alto saxophone, clarinet, percussion and vocalizes. MORE

July 6, 2018

Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi with Masahiko Satoh

Proton Pump
Family Vineyard FV 104

New Old Luten Quintet

Letzter Rabatz!

Euphorium Records EUPH 057

All the struggles that go into constantly remaining relevant – and inventive – as an improvising musician cause many over the years to jump ship for smoother voyages. That’s why players in their seventies and eighties still pushing themselves to the pinnacle are valued. Two who do so consistently are Japan’s Akira Sakata, 73, and Germany’s Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, a venerable 84, MORE

January 7, 2017


Trost TR 146

The DKVThing Trio


NotTwo MW 930-2

By Ken Waxman

Seemingly more ubiquitous than a smart phone, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love appears to be everywhere at once, especially when advanced improvised music is involved. Not only does the percussionist lead his own large unit and smaller aggregations, but he also turns up in groups led by players ranging from Frode Gjerstad to Peter Brötzmann. These recent sessions are particularly notable for a couple of reasons. Semikujira is the newest chapter in the history of an on-again/off-again trio made up of Nilssen-Love, Swedish bassist Johan Berthling and veteran Japanese alto saxophonist/clarinetist Akira Sakata. Ratcheting the intensity level up into the red zone, Collider solders together The Thing, the drummer’s punk-jazz trio with Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten with its U.S. counterpoint, the DKV trio of reedist Ken Vandermark, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Hamid Drake. MORE

September 21, 2016


Trost TR 146


Casa Futuro

Clean Feed CF 334 CD

Musically self-effacing at least in terms of projecting himself into mass public consciousness, Swedish bassist Johan Berthling works in various groups with Mats Gustafsson and others, whole dabbling in avant-pop and production. However like the pinch hitter brought into the ball game when true expertise is needed, these similarly constituted trio sessions benefit from his modest bottom-accentuated conceptions. MORE

January 11, 2016

Akira Sakata & Jim O'Rourke with Chikamorachi & Merzbow

Flying Basket
Family Vineyard FV88

Merzbow/Balás Pándi/Mats Gustafsson/Thurston Moore

Cuts of Guilt, Cut Deeper

RareNoise Records RNRPR 052

On of the defining indicators of distinctive 21st Century improvised music is how it`s now being built on more than a Free Jazz or possibly aleatory so-called classical music tropes. Rock rhythms, electronic extensions and the acceptance of so-called noise as ends in themselves often characterize these performances and separate them from earlier avant-garde strategies. These sets, featuring Jazz-identified saxophones, Rock-wedded guitarist and the doming electronic pulses of Japan`s Masami Akita, known as Merzbow are distant example of these concepts. However one allows the noise to dominate the CD’s improvisational character, while the other subordinates the non-Free Jazz elements so that like detailing on an auto with a powerful motor, they complement rather than engulf graceful free music. MORE

January 1, 2016

NPR’s 10th Annual

Jazz Critics Poll Ballot

Ken Waxman (The New York City Jazz Record, Jazz Word)


  1. Roscoe Mitchell, Celebrating Fred Anderson (Nessa)
  2. Daniel Carter-William Parker-Federico Ughi, Navajo Sunrise (Rudi)
  3. François Carrier-Michel Lambert-Rafal Mazur, Unknowable (Not Two)
  4. Anna Webber, Refraction (Pirouet)
  5. Tim Berne, You've Been Watching Me (ECM)
  6. Evan Parker, Seven (Victo)
  7. Samuel Blaser, Spring Rain (Whirlwind)
  8. Akira Sakata-Giovanni Di Domenico-John Edwards-Steve Noble, Live at Cafe Oto (Clamshell)
  9. James Falzone & the Renga Ensemble, The Room Is (Allos Documents)
  10. George Freeman & Chico Freeman, All in the Family (Southport)

October 1, 2015

Festival Report

By Ken Waxman

Multi-media, theatricalism and electronics were the motifs that kept cropping up during the Météo Festival (August 25-29) in this Alsatian city known for its textile industry and unique German-French flair. There were also plenty of intense improvisations in its venues, confirming the continued strength of the 33-year-old festival.

Artistic mixing was most prominent during Météo’s opening concert in the Italianate 19th Century Théâtre de la Sinne as the French Surnatural Orchestra interacted with a screening of Italian director Dario D’Aregento’s 1975 slasher film Profondo Rosso. Unlike most music-with-cinema programs where live playing is subordinated to the visuals, this bloody over-the-top Hitchcock-Goddard-Fellini pastiche was frozen at various junctures for limber solos by a dancer, a speaker’s pseudo-pretentious film analysis, a scream from the stalls, cabaret style singing and a Second Line march through the audience. Still, no sonic moments stood out, and the exercise could be liked to someone decked out in full Carnaby Street fashion surmounting the outfit with a Viking helmet. MORE

July 6, 2015

Festival Report

Ring Ring
By Ken Waxman

Try to imagine any North American TV network telecasting a performance by Charles Gayle that’s simultaneously broadcast on radio and via live streaming. Impossible, right? But that’s exactly what took place mid-way through the annual Ring Ring Festival in Belgrade Serbia. Facing an enthusiastic studio audience, Gayle on piano and tenor saxophone plus Polish bassist Ksawery Wojcinski’s subtle string bending and German drummer Klaus Kugel’s aggressive, but un-antagonistic beats played for one hour. This unique programming characterizes Ring Ring (May 19-25) in colorful Belgrade, a city poised between East and West which has been subject to periodic sieges and bombardments since the 14th Century including NATO’s in 1999. Slightly constrained by the studio, Gayle’s tenor saxophone playing was less ferocious than in the past although still characterized by wide vibrato and molten intensity, which was put to good use on a run through of “Ghosts” and during duets with the bassist’s choppy thrusts. A unique pianist, Gayle favored the instrument’s dark register with boogie-woogie allusions, supplemented by his own voicing, which re-harmonized standards like “I’ll Remember You” and “What’s New”, dissected them, eventually revealing the melody, like an X-ray of the skeleton beneath the skin. MORE

December 21, 2014

NPR 9th Annual Jazz Critics Poll: 2014

Ken Waxman’s ballot


1. Yoni Kretzmer-Pascal Niggenkemper-Weasel Walter, Protest Music (OutNow)

2. Paul Giallorenzo, Force Majeure (Delmark)

3. Kyle Bruckmann, . . . Awaits Silent Tristero's Empire (SingleSpeed Music)

4. Sakata/Lonberg-Holm/Gutvik/Nilssen-Love, The Cliff of Time (PNL)

5. Alexander Hawkins, Step Wide, Step Deep (Babel)

6. François Carrier-Michel Lambert-Alexey Lapin, The Russia Concerts Volume 1/The Russia Concerts Volume 2 (FMR)

7. Rodrigo Amado & Jeb Bishop, The Flame Alphabet (NotTwo) MORE

November 26, 2014


The Cliff of Time
PNL 022

No-holds-barred Free Jazz, the four selections on this CD are very firmly in the tradition established by Albert Ayler and others 50 years ago, but equally connected to the 21st Century. No longer the New Thing; Free Improv, like other styles of Jazz, has spread throughout the world with many other players besides (Black) Americans adding their own textures and ideas.

Case in point is this CD which unites a nearly-70-year-old Japanese saxophonist/clarinetist, who has been exploring Free Jazz since its beginnings, with one American and two Norwegians in their thirties and forties who maintain Free-Jazz proficiency alongside skills in other musics. It’s no surprise that alto saxophonist and bass clarinetist Akira Sakta is able to hit the ground running in these situations having played with figures as disparate as Jim O`Rourke and Peter Brötzmann. Never at a loss for a rhythmic pattern, Oslo-based percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, has over the past 20 years worked in groups ranging from duos to big bands. Demonstrative saxophonists are frequently his partners, with the drummer in on-going relationships with Mats Gustafsson, Brötzmann, Fride Gjerstad and Joe McPhee among others. Chicago-based cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm is as busy with about as many bands as the percussionist; while Oslo-based guitarist Ketil Gutvik is moving out from gigs in the Scandinavian scene to work with other Europeans. MORE

July 1, 2014

Akira Sakata/Giovanni Di Domenico

Mbari Music mbari 21

Expressively dexterous and modest improvisations, which despite a minimalist presentation skirt the quietude of so-called Chamber Jazz, these reed-piano duos show how much can be invested and extracted from this simple format.

Chief points of demarcation here are radically different. On Iruman, veteran Japanese reedist Akira Sakata gradually toughen the interaction between his playing and that of Italian-born, Brussels-resident pianist Giovanni Di Domenico so that by the climatic final piece they’re engaged in rapid-fire near-atonality. Equally edifying is a disc-meeting between two long-time stalwarts of New York’s advanced music scene. Like the other CD a first-time recording, despite being from so-called different Jazz circles, alto saxophonist Jameel Moondoc and pianist Connie Crothers have actually played together for years. What’s noteworthy about Two though, is that despite the musicians’ membership in the so-called avant garde, the improvisations are rife with near references to standards – Jazz and otherwise. MORE

April 27, 2014

Akira Sakata/Giovanni Di Domenico/John Edwards/Steve Noble

Live At Cafe Oto
Clamshell Records CR26

Experiencing the supersonically paced and rugged improvisations of Japanese reedist Akira Sakata is not unlike taking one of his country’s bullet trains as it makes it way from Tokyo to a far destination at about 320 kilometres an hour. Despite the speed, Hiroshima-born Sakata, like the bullet train knows exactly where he’s going and is in perfect control. As one of the pioneer Nipponese Free Jazzers, he has played with everyone from fellow saxist Peter Brötzmann to pianist Yamashita Yosuke during his four-decade career and knows how to keep sessions moving and exciting. MORE

September 9, 2013


Concert for Fukushima Wels 2011
Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet (PanRec/Trost Records)

By Ken Waxman
Passion is an adjective often associated with German sax avatar Peter Brötzmann, especially as on this DVD, you can see as well as hear the efforts that go into producing his gut-busting sounds. Concert for Fukushima Wels 2011 is a valuable addition to the saxophonist’s cannon for not only focusing on the passion behind his playing and that of the other musicians featured in this 75-minute live concert from an Austrian festival. The DVD also highlights Brötzmann’s compassion as well. Always politically engaged the Wuppertal-based reedist asked four Japanese innovators to play with the Chicago Tentet that night with all proceeds from the gigs going to two organizations aiding the victims of the then recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami. MORE

December 5, 2011

Akira Sakata & Jim O’Rourke with Chikamorachi

…and that's the Story of Jazz
Family Vineyard FV78

Benjamin Duboc/Itaru Oki


Improvising Beings ib01



Quintoquarto QQ002

Globe Unity: Japan

By Ken Waxman

With Japan’s year filled with disasters both geographical – an earthquake and a tsunami – and societal –political instability and falling interest rates – it’s heartening to hear CDs proving that musicians’ improvisational skills are still advanced. The sessions are also noteworthy, because like relief efforts, their success is due to collaborations with foreigners. MORE

January 16, 2010

Nobuyasu Furuya Trio

Clean Feed CF159 CD

Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi

Friendly Pants

Family Vineyard FV66

While this linkage of two CDs featuring Japanese-born saxophonists playing in a trio with a non-Japanese rhythm section, may appear somewhat louche, there are similarities reflected on these appealing discs of which even the two protagonists may not be aware. This is despite the reality that alto saxophonist Akira Sakata is a Nipponese Free Jazz legend, while tenor saxophonist Nobuyasu Furuya is much lesser known. MORE

January 16, 2010

Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi

Friendly Pants
Family Vineyard FV66

Nobuyasu Furuya Trio


Clean Feed CF159 CD

While this linkage of two CDs featuring Japanese-born saxophonists playing in a trio with a non-Japanese rhythm section, may appear somewhat louche, there are similarities reflected on these appealing discs of which even the two protagonists may not be aware. This is despite the reality that alto saxophonist Akira Sakata is a Nipponese Free Jazz legend, while tenor saxophonist Nobuyasu Furuya is much lesser known. MORE