The Japanese onomatopoeic expression neba neba (ねばねば, called in Japanese a tatami word) refers to something sticky, often used when describing certain dishes. «Neba Neba» is an apt description for the intense and passionate, free jazz atmosphere of the meeting of Japanese-Americans sax player Patrick Shiroishi and drummer Dylan Fujioka, both are based in Los Angeles. Shiroishi and Fujioka are busy and fertile musicians in the local experimental scene of California and have collaborated before in a quartet with reeds player Vinny Golia and drummer Alex Cline («Borasisi», Astral Spirits, 2019).
The three pieces of «Neba Neba», recorded in November 2019, are rooted in the energetic and ecstatic free jazz legacy, but these experienced improvisers have an urgent drive to add their personal perspective to it. Shiroishi and Fujioka have developed their own kind of deep, exploratory interplay that does not subscribe to distinct rhythmic patterns or to fast, cathartic blows but often looks for challenging dynamics and inventive timbral search, embracing fragile intimacy and melodic themes. Both build the tension slowly on the opening, extended «Lucky Boys», patiently investigate and exhaust the detours to the subdued counterparts, until they gain enough power and volume and reach a brief static coda.
The brief «Stray Dog» is a delicate duet, where Fuioka colors the restrained sax whispers and blows of Shiroishi with imaginative, resonating colors. The third and last piece, the extended «Chorizo» (another foodie reference), begins with sparse interplay but soon stressing distinct rhythmic patterns. But, again, Shiroishi and Fujioka refuse to surrender to linear dynamics and like to explore a few parallel and more open, rhythmic dynamics and multiphonics and to form an imaginative and poetic interplay, before concluding with another ecstatic eruption.
Shiroishi and Fujioka are strong-minded and articulate improvisers with an interesting language of their own. You should look for their work.
Patrick Shiroishi (as, bs), Dylan Fujioka (dr, perc)