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Henrytennis - Bay Leaf and Singers CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.32 | 3 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars One of a small handful of Japanese artists that has gone the way of Canterbury Scene jazz, HENRYTENNIS joined the ranks with Mr Sirius, Six North and Stubbs before bands like De Lorians, East Wind Pot and Moleslope got in on the action. Since its formation in 2003 this Yoshito Okumura led band has released a total of three albums with the latest being the 2022 release BAY LEAF AND SINGERS. While the lineup has changed in its 20 years existence this latest features six members offering the usually rock instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums along with two saxophonists and a keyboardist.

Following in the footsteps of post-Third era Soft Machine, HENRYTENNIS delivers a selection of 11 all-instrumental tracks which offer about an hour's worth of Canterbury-tinged jazz rock. This is a bright and happy sounding album with pleasant melodies and wind tones that will pull anyone who listens out of the ho hum doldrums. Probably sounding most like Gilgamesh of the English scene, HAIRYTENNIS sounds more like a straight forward jazz-fusion outfit most of the time but exudes that warmth and glow of a Canterbury band with those certain chord progressions that take you to that special place that remains utterly indescribable but easily detected by anyone who's gotten the Canterbury bug.

This set of tracks on BAY LEAF AND SINGERS is a light and breezy bunch which never really feels threatening nor do these tracks excel in any particular way that delivers any hairpin turns or true surprises. These are very logical processions of groovy jazz-rock peppered with Canterbury spices that offer dreamy atmospheric covered jazz-rock melodies along with the occasional tintinnabulation of the glockenspiel. For the most part this album follows the same playbook which makes it sound a bit samey without much variation but once in a while a curveball is thrown such as the case of "Special One" which features an electronic pop beat with the horn section playing along. Different but not really dynamic at least not until the time signature frenzies start up. There's also an energetic outburst in the middle of the closing "Daylight Fire Section" which is probably the most lively part of the album.

Well there's not really much to say about this one. HENRYTENNIS is very comfortable with the softer side of the jazz-fusion scene with only small doses of Canterbury flavors on BAY LEAF AND SINGERS. Personally i find this one a bit underwhelming for my tastes since i love my Canterbury jazz to be bold and adventurous and take us onto roads yet not travelled. This album while pleasant enough plays it all way too safe and given that the band is Japanese perhaps that the members felt it impolite to tread on another culture's musical style but then again, we're talking about Japan which has unleashed some of the wildest unorthodox music in all kinds of Western genres so the fact that this is as tame as it is makes me scratch my head. Decent but not really essential in any way.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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