Yumiko Tanaka & Yoko Reikano Kimura | Bond Chapel, University of Chicago | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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Yumiko Tanaka & Yoko Reikano Kimura All Ages Free Recommended Soundboard

When: Wed., Nov. 13, 8 p.m. 2013
I first heard Japanese free improviser Yumiko Tanaka in Otomo Yoshihide’s experimental rock band Ground-Zero, and even then she was a daring player who transformed her traditional string instrument, the futozao shamisen (a thick-necked variant of the fretless three-string lute) into an abstract sound generator. But it wasn’t till her bracing 2003 solo album, Tayutauta (Improvised Music From Japan), that I got a good sense for her aesthetic: twangy, brittle runs, astringent bowed tones, percussive thwacks and pings, and dissonant clusters that she might strum, pluck, or hammer. A couple years later she deployed that vocabulary on Continental Crust (Sofa), a series of knotty, empathetic duets with Norwegian acoustic guitarist Ivar Grydeland that perfectly melded their different string sounds, softening the cultural divide between the instruments—and making those moments when you can tell the instruments apart actually mean something. For this rare local concert with Yoko Reikano Kimura, a shamisen virtuoso from New York, Tanaka will focus on composed music, including “Sugagaki Kuzushi,” a stately shamisen duet by Yuji Takahashi with subtly out-of-synch phrases and a traditional-sounding vocal passage (sung here by Tanaka). Among the other pieces on the program are Suite for Sangen, a late solo work by U.S. composer Lou Harrison, which will be played by Kimura. —Peter Margasak



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