Aki Takase & Rudi Mahall
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This is a beautiful encounter that explores the jazzier side of pianist Aki Takase and bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall. Takase's previous session for Leo Records, the Dempa trio's Nine Fragments, was more arid and intense. The Dessert strikes with its lightness and playfulness. Thoroughly written down, this set is built on the close marriage of Takase's knowledge of dances — she references tango, foxtrot, waltz, even a bit of Java in her compositions — and graphically dancing fingers (you can "see" them move) with Mahall's leanings for prankster jazz and tongue-in-cheek lyricism. Less energetic than his contributions to the Electrics and Die Enttäuschung, his playing here unfolds in circumvolving movements, displaying an awkward grace that comically but successfully matches Takase's ballet. His own pieces tend to be more abstract, even getting close to the stiffness of contemporary chamber composition at times ("With Egg"). But "Ear In, Ear Out," where he explores the depths of his instrument, stands as a highlight. Takase's compositions are filled to the rim with whimsicality and charm. "Panna Cotta" and the pseudo tango of "Purity and Sweetness" stand out. The closing four-part "Anekdot" is the only co-written piece, and it actually involves a lot more free improvisation. Exchanges heat up for the finale without breaking the overall mood of the album. The Dessert recalls Takase's 2002 duo album with Konrad Bauer, News from Berlin (on Victo), but it is more mischievous. And that turns out to be a plus. ~ François Couture, Rovi
Born: January 26, 1948 in Osaka, Japan
Years Active: '00s, '10s