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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Toshinori Kondo

By Malachai Phelps
Published June 6, 2008

Silent Melodies

There are jazz-rock-fusion trum-peters (Graham Haynes, Andy Diagram and Nils Petter Molvaer, to name a few) who, each in their own way, have stretched the electronic blueprint pioneered by Miles Davis to its limits—but then Japanese horn demon Toshinori Kondo simply clears his throat, as he’s done for about 30 years now, and reminds them that there are still entire sonic universes left to map. Using only the trumpet and his stripped-down bank of effects-processing devices, Kondo takes Silent Melodies into an otherworldly realm where Shinto and sci-fi meet, with such cuts as “Resonant Space” and “Song For The Small Planet” casting huge expanses of pristinely layered, synthesized sound—all of it coming from (and this bears repeating) just one instrument and one traveler’s imagination. And like life’s great mysteries, the closer you get to Kondo’s singular freestyle aesthetic—not to mention his sure-lipped grasp of tone and harmony—the more beautifully inscrutable it becomes.