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Henrytennis - Bay Leaf and Singers CD (album) cover



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4 stars For a really under-rated band such as they are, it can be surprising to know that they reached four albums. Yes, this japanese group released works from 2006 to 2022 and yet is very unkwown even amongst the connoiseur. I think it would help for them and for many other japanese artists, if the physical CDs were more accesible for the rest of the world.

Now, let me tell my analysis. It's similar to the two previous, mantaining that mature and elegante style of composing that was present on the second album and got a little better on the third. Yes, this is my way to try to convince those who like this last release to aknowledge other one(s).

It goes deep into Canterbury feeling, and deeper into a dynamic good mood spirit. Seems cleverly destinated to cheer you up, or at least try. Good choice to continue entirely instrumental. The highlite of this job is IMO the wind instruments, with beautiful, pleasent and clean harmonies. And it's interesting that they made it with two saxofones, this time. By a matter of comparison, on the previous disc they had also a flutist.

There aren't tracks who distinctively are better than others. But making a selection of the 11 tracks, I'd point tracks 7, 4 and 9. Tracks 10 and 11 are the weakest part of the album.

3,7 stars on a scale of five.

Report this review (#2878792)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2023 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
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 Yo[&*!#]o 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.

Report this review (#2879428)
Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 | Review Permalink

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