Racha Fora

Hiro Honshuku

"Let's go!" is one of the many possible translations of Racha Fora (pronounced "hasha fora"), but the one most apropos to this ensemble might be "branch line"—in this case running from Brazil to Japan, a link older and deeper than you might imagine. Racha Fora's sound is, appropriately, at once delicate and propulsive, acoustic and electronic, and fleet of finger and mind.

Leader Hiro Honshuku's extensive resume is highlighted by his longstanding interest in Brazilian music and, above all, his lengthy association with the late composer, bandleader, and educator George Russell, author of The Lydian Chromatic Concept for Tonal Organization. Russell's ideas have profoundly influenced Honshuku's approach to composition and arranging and have led him to a musical idiom that is distinctively his own. In addition to the flute, Honshuku performs on the EWI, an electronic wind instrument developed by Akai that can traverse an astounding eight octaves; the vast array of sonorities it produces come from samples programmed by Honshuku on his laptop computer.

Violinist Rika Ikeda's ravishing tone reflects her intensive classical training, but she can play rough when she wants to. An accomplished improviser, her precise portamenti in part reflect traditional Japanese music, but also give her phrases an unmistakable blues inflection.

Mauricio Andrade's nylon guitar, delicate with almost classical voicings, centers the ensemble. His comping is rhythmically impeccable and his subdued solos are harmonically acute.

Rafael Russi brings to the electric bass much of the technique of his other instrument, the guitar. Indeed, at times, he and Andrade work together so tightly that they resemble a single 10-string instrument. His solid groove anchors the group, but he can surprise you by suddenly picking up the melodic line or adding a rich counterpoint.

Fernando Saci is not only a virtuoso of the pandeiro with absolutely flawless time but also an inventive creator of novel sounds (e.g., brushes on a Mayan ocean drum). His dazzling percussion playing is echoed by his own vivid vocalizations.

In a venerable tradition dating back at least to Duke Ellington, many of Honshuku's original compositions acquired their often cryptic titles long after the music was completed.

The opening track, True Pot, is a baião, a rhythm from the tough, arid landscape of northeastern Brazil, while Post Noodle mixes patterns of partido alto, a highly syncopated variant of samba.

Sakura, Sakura is a centuries-old traditional melody celebrating Japan's unofficial national flower, the cherry blossom. Famous all over the world, this theme is given a reflective setting by Honshuku, who created the arrangement in response to the suffering caused by the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and radiation leak in northeastern Japan in 2011. (For information on aiding the victims of these disasters, please take a moment to visit http://anonemusic.com/helpJapan.)

The choro DI menor is a fascinating meeting of minds as the unmistakable harmonic fingerprint of its composer, the Brazilian guitarist Guinga, encounters Honshuku's modal chromaticism. Next is an Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vincius de Moraes classic, Garota de Ipanema (The Girl From Ipanema); in Honshuku's languid arrangement, undercurrents of Bahian afoxé and samba-reggae intimate that this garota might actually be strolling on the beach at Itapuã.

Ice Butt, another of Honshuku's inscrutably titled compositions, is a brisk baião with hints of samba, while his sensual Sus Div invokes baião's more laid-back cousin, toada.

The Ponto-cho district in Kyoto is today an area where geisha and kabuki traditions rub elbows with expensive restaurants, but in earlier times its reputation was closer to that of the Storyville section of New Orleans in the early 20th century. Honshuku's PONTO brings a whiff of blues and the second line to this sultry xote.

Honshuku's diminuitive Chorozinha—a little choro—adopts the rhythms and form of this traditional Brazilian instrumental style, but with decidedly atypical harmonies. It leads straight into another original, O.o.M., a rhythmically elaborate, Hermeto-ish samba with a complex ensemble section punctuated by pandeiro breaks and a vamp that runs the voodoo down.

With Honshuku's Rind Well, Racha Fora takes flight from Pernambuco with a frenzied frevo, fading into the brilliant blue sky shared by Brazil, Japan, and all of us.

J. R. Carroll, July 2011, writer for artsfuse.org


南ブラジル方言で聞かれる「ハシャ・フォーラ」の意味は色々あり、「さあいくぞ」とか「行ってくれ」と訳すことも出来るが、このアンサンブルに適した訳は「ブランチ・ライン」〜 ブラジルから(アメリカを通過し)日本に繋がるラインから広がる枝々。ブラジルと日本は知られているよりもっと長い歳月深く繋がっているかも知れない。ハシャ・フォーラのサウンドは期待通りにデリケートであり、活力的であり、アコースティックであり、エレクトリックであり、そしてテクニックと頭脳である。

リーダー、本宿宏明のブラジル音楽への情熱は周知であるが、もっとも明記されることは彼の長年にわたる故ジョージ・ラッセル(作曲家、バンドリーダー、教育者、リディアン・クロマティック・コンセプトの創始者)との関係であろう。ラッセル氏のアイデアは本宿氏の作曲編曲法に強く影響し、彼独自のユニークな音楽イディオムをもたらした。本宿氏はフルートの他Akaiのウインドシンセ、EWIも演奏する。本宿氏のEWI演奏は驚異的な8オクターブを縦横し、彼がサンプラーをプログラムしてノート型コンピュータから醸し出すサウンドは多岐にわたる。

バイオリニスト、池田里花はクラシック出の魅了的な音質を持つが、ワイルドな演奏も自由に操る。インプロの名手であり、彼女の正確なポルタメントは日本の伝統音楽を想わせるが、反面ブルージーなサウンドもこなす。

ナイロンギター奏者、モーリシオ・アンドラージの演奏はデリケートなクラシックのようなヴォイシングでアンサンブルを支える。彼の伴奏のリズムは完璧であり、ソロは力強く和声的に奥が深い。

ベースのハファエル・フッシは著名なギタリストでもあり、ギターのテクニックをベースに活かしている。彼とギターのアンドラージは時に一体となり、あたかも10弦楽器のように聞こえることがある。彼の確固としたグルーブはアンサンブルの支えであるが、メロディーラインやカウンターラインをいいタイミングで挿入して聞き手を楽しませる。

フェルナンド・サシーは驚異的なタイム感のパンデイロ名手で知られるが、クリエイティブなサウンドを創る(例えばマヤ・オーシャンドラムでのブラシ音)打楽器奏者としても知られる。彼の掛け声はその素晴らしいパーカッション演奏をいっそう美味しくしてくれる。

本宿氏の作曲作品には理解不可能なタイトルを完成後に付けたものが多い。古くから時折見られる伝統で、デューク・エリントンも好んでいたようだ。

J.R.キャロル、2011年7月、artfuse.org コラムニスト

 

Tracks: 
  1. True Pot
  2. Post Noodle
  3. 「さくらさくら」Sakura, Sakura
  4. Di Menor
  5. Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema)
  6. Ice Butt
  7. Sus Div
  8. PONTO
  9. Chorozinha
  10. O.o.M.
  11. Rind Well
Released Date
Released Month: 
November
Released year: 
2011