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5-8 Weeks
ARTIST
TITLE
On A Cold, Cold Night
FORMAT
CD

LABEL
CATALOG #
PSF 086CD PSF 086CD
GENRE
RELEASE DATE
7/31/2000

"Michihiro Sato is a recognized master of the percussive, hugely exciting Tsugaru-jamisen style that originates in the deep north of Japan. The rough-hewn, freewheeling spirit of the Tsugaru style is perhaps comparable in iconography and individual expression to the Delta blues. Its history is full of blind shamisen-men, wandering forlornly from town to town through desolate winter snows, maybe not selling their souls to Satan but certainly playing till their fingers bleed. Either way, it's about a million and one miles away from the limp, effeminate plucking soundtrack you might be used to from nights at your local sushi emporium. In the West, Sato is best known for his collaborations with John Zorn (one of which, Ganryu Island, was recently reissued on Tzadik), and with the cream of the NY downtown scene on Rodan. In Japan, though, Sato's profile is higher as a master of the traditional repertoire of his instrument, and his improvisational experiments have a lower profile. On this totally solo disk (his previous releases have always featured accompanists). Sato manages to fuse his two obsessions: combining several pieces from the traditional canon with a lengthy improvisation. Sato coolly reigns in the pyrotechnic grandstanding that has won him a clutch of national trophies, substituting a sensitive control and sense of space. It's a breathtaking performance, fully the equal of the verve with which he revitalizes the traditional pieces. Of all the Japanese folk styles, tsugaru-jamisen is the most immediately approachable, and Sato is a contemporary master at the peak of his powers. This disk can only serve to underline his brain-melting prowess. The cover-painting by Baku Ueda is equally transporting." -- Alan Cummings