Hōryū-ji (法隆寺) means in Japanese: the Learning Temple of the Flourishing Law. It is the name of one of the powerful Seven Great Buddhist Temples in Japan, dating from the beginning of the seventh century with a wooden pagoda that is considered to be the oldest wooden building existing in the world. The strong, curved architecture of this famous temple inspired the meeting of Japanese legendary reeds player Akira Sakata, frequent collaborator of Sakata, Italian, Brussels-based pianist Giovanni Di Domenico (both recorded the duo album Iruman, Mbari, 2014 and later four more albums with ad-hoc quartets), fellow Brussels resident, Greek guitarist Giotis Damianidis and Greek, Thessaloniki-based drummer Christos Yermenoglou.
This ad-hoc quartet met for two performances at Duende Jazz Club in Thessaloniki on May 2018, the second of which yielded «Hōryū-ji». The music is completely free-improvised, reflecting the ecstatic power of the art of the moment, the intense experience that thrives on the edg and acknowledgement of deep spiritual roots of free, invigorating meeting. If you will, also the uncompromising, resilient essence of the Japanese temple.
Sakata, obviously, is the the natural leader. He sets the fiery atmosphere of this session immediately and already on the first note that he plays. But the interplay is democratic and allows Di Domenico and Damianidis to take the lead later before Sakata offers a more lyrical vein for the quartet to follow. Later it alternates again between a steamy, ecstatic catharsis and a totally open interplay. Sakata takes the lead again on the beginning of the second untitled piece, now playing the clarinet and deepening the open, contemplative vein of the previous piece and later turns this kind of open, conversational interplay into a highly playful one, highlighting his deep understanding with Di Domenico. This piece reaches its emotional climax when Sakata begins one of his inimitable speech, cries-talk-chants-raps his diatribes in a manner that only he can. He builds the dramatic tension with this speech towards the inevitable, powerful coda. But now the effects-laden guitar of Damianidis sends this quartet to far away galaxies, as if insisting on reaching Sun Ra, wherever he is in deep space.
Akira Sakata (as, cl, v, bells), Christos Yermenoglou (dr, perc), Giovanni Di Domenico (p), Giotis Damianidis (g)