Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Kazumi Watanabe - The Spice Of Life Too (1988)

02.We the Planet
03.Fu Bu Ki
05.Small Wonder
06.Concrete Cow
08.Men and Angels.


  1. Kazumi Watanabe - guitars
    Jeff Berlin - bass
    Bill Bruford - Simmons SDX electronic drums
    Peter Vettese - keyboards.

    Finally, I have a reference point for all those Jean-Luc Ponty albums other than Ponty himself. The cyclical nature of the rhythms here, the tart and tasteful guitar lines from Watanabe... it’s like Ponty aplenty. The Spice of Life Too is soft fusion, not as spicy as I imagined an album with Bill Bruford and Jeff Berlin would be, but as Ponty has proven not everything has to sound brain-poking prickly to be intelligent. The album is apparently a followup to Watanabe’s previous elpee, The Spice of Life. If I find that one for a dollar, I’ll let you know what I think. Right now I’m thinking that I won’t revisit Too too often, just because it’s a little mellow for my tastes. The funky “Fu Bu Ki” and a neat acoustic twist in “Concrete Cow” resonate with my musical sensibilities most. The rest of the record is languid, sometimes economical to the point of perfection (“Andre”), other times a bit aimless. Perhaps I’m in a critical rut, since the last band to spark my engine was the Eagles and that can’t be good. More likely, I have a very small portion of my brain set aside for fusion, and it’s already occupied by Chick Corea, Al DiMeola, Weather Report, Ponty, Brand X and a few nameless stragglers. Small wonder then that Kazumi Watanabe should find it hard to gain a foothold. Of course, I wouldn’t want to judge him based on one album. Meshing with a band of primarily rock players can be daunting for any jazz artist; Peter Vettese in particular presents a challenge. Watanabe seems constrained here and maybe that’s style or circumstance. He does execute his lines precisely, but that’s a little like keeping your pencils sharp.