Kaoru Abe

At 29 years old, this self-taught Japanese maniac passed away from a drug overdose. He left behind several albums, most of them live recordings and some solo. He collaborated with some well-known skunk-minded improvisers including drummer Milford Graves and trumpeter Toshinori Kuondo. He could make a lilting screech but his mastery of the saxophone’s dynamic range enabled him to effortlessly switch between beautiful, melancholy melodies, and a post-Ayler, sinus-clearing shriek almost instantly. from http://burningambulance.com To some listeners, this avant-garde Japanese player from the ’70s wins the sweepstakes for the most abrasive saxophone sound in history, an important competition indeed in this genre. Some saxophonists claim their tone can remove varnish from antiques and cook a 20-pound goose in an hour. They even manage to wound a small rodent at 200 yards. There is no doubt about Kaoru Abe’s impact on alto sax. On clarinet, he never dreamed of becoming Artie Shaw. His premature death meant that he didn’t live to witness the rise of Japanese avant-garde music or enjoy the fame his saxophone skills might have earned him. Since some of the most important material from this player was only available in the years following his death, he never had at least half his CDs in his hands. He also didn’t enjoy the entire CD format which allowed him to fully document his energy discourse. A number of small labels made a living out his posthumous CDs, producing an annual multi-CD set for many years. His fans tend to count backwards starting at the date of his death and ending at the recording date. The higher the number, the more genius there is. There are several explanations of this, one rooted in debauchery, and the other in perhaps a worse curse, multi-instrumentalism. According to some reports, the performer lived a life of debauchery, was stuffed with drugs, and was filled with sadness and loneliness. These elements were enough to make it worthy of a movie treatment. Japanese free jazz fans have the option to search for Endless Waltz, which tells the story of Suzuki Izumi’s marriage. The screenplay suggests that he had more problems than he had. Some fans believe that his talents smolder with the inevitable roar of a fire that is constantly doused with filthy waters in the decade he didn’t finish, the 1970s. He shouldn’t be held responsible for living the lifestyle many consider necessary for such a career. Dexter Gordon did well after consuming entire bottles of vodka. Many of the acknowledged free jazz gems were recorded by musicians who had taken LSD. The appeal of Abe’s later material is not due to the perception that he has lost it, but rather because he introduced other instruments such as the horrible harmonica and the crudely played guitar. There are very few cases in history where saxophonists have been praised for adding additional instruments to their arsenal. Any criticism on this topic can be seen as an important step forward. While Japanese music scholars have also praised the later Abe material and his use diverse instruments, they all seem to agree that his alto saxophone playing is unmatched. It is certain that no matter how noisy the Japanese music scene gets, there has never been another reed player quite like this. Although his solo sets are considered to be his best, he also recorded with Milford Graves, an American master free jazz drummer, and Derek Bailey, the British father of free-improvisation. Abe’s powerful playing is a great addition to both these completely different settings. You can also hear him on recordings with other Japanese players such as the Aida’s Call CD, where he performs with Toshinori Yoshizawa (a booze victim) and Motoharu Yoshizawa (a dynamic trumpeter). Abe was a member of the New Directions duo with Masayuki Takaanagi in 1970. Eugene Chadbourne, allmusic.com

Leave a Comment