KBB - "Live 2004"
(Musea/Poseidon 2005, FGBG 4598.AR/PRF-025)
From Aural Innovations #34 (August 2006)
The third album from Japanese progressive jazz-rock ensemble KBB is a live set from 2004, consisting of performances of music from their first 2 albums, plus an unreleased new title. The band consists of Akihisa Tsuboy on violin, Toshimitsu Takahashi on keyboards, Dani on bass and Shirou Sugano on drums.
The CD opens with "Discontinuous Spiral", a somewhat spacey jazz fusion piece with a Celtic edge. Violin and keyboards alternate on lead (mostly violin), and the band strikes me as sounding like a jazz fusion version of Kansas during the violin dominated sections. "Inner Flames" is next and is a much more powerful tune, with a rocking edge to the jazz fusion, and potent Hammond sounding organ, which is very cool alongside the violin. This is much more of a full band track and features impressive playing from all, particularly the smoking keyboard leads from Takahashi. It's a varied piece with distinct Mahavishnu Orchestra and Dixie Dregs influences, but also classic progressive styles and a power rock feel when the organ goes full blow. And at 12 minutes KBB really stretch out, giving the music both a composed and free-wheeling jam feel.
"Shironiji" is next and at 13 minutes is the longest track of the set. However, I found it to be a bit of a letdown after the smokin' "Inner Flames". For the first 9 minutes it consists mostly of light jazz fusion with some progressive elements, and only in the last several minutes does the band really cut loose. It probably would have been a much stronger track trimmed down to about 6 minutes. But things heat up again nicely with "I Am Not Here", which begins with a tension laced avant-classical intro, that soon launches into a high voltage jam that's like a cross between Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson. KBB rock out for a few minutes, and then recede once again, transitioning to a cool free-jazz jam with a rolling bass and rocking drums that really keep the pace moving. And on it goes throughout the track, twisting and turning between different themes, blending rock, jazz and classical elements and keeping the listener continually on high alert. Excellent!! "Horobi no Kawa" treads in calmer waters, being a light, pleasant progressive rock and jazz fusion tune. KBB seem to be alternating between the lighter and more exciting stuff, because "Nessa no Kioku" is another lengthy ass kicking track with the same fiery full band performance that made the other hot tracks such electrifying experiences. Lots of cool spacey synth backdrops, high intensity prog-jazz-rock, compositional twists and turns and mercury bursting violin, keyboard and piano leads.
And rounding out the set is "Hatenaki Shoudou", yet another hot performance and a fitting close to what is overall a mightily enjoyable set of instrumental progressive rock and jazz. The sound quality is excellent and until I heard the audience applause after the each track I kept forgetting this was a live album.
For more information you can visit the KBB web site at: http://tsuboy.internet.ne.jp/kbb.
Visit the Musea Records web site at: http://www.musearecords.com.
Visit the Poseidon web site at: http://www.musicterm.jp/poseidon.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz