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Friday, Nov. 18, 2005




Some call Tatopani "contemporary world music," but such a simple description doesn't do justice to the musical magic they conjure up. A trio-turned-quartet of Tokyo-based Americans and Australians, the genres of world, jazz, classical, acoustic and ethnic all capture individual aspects of their music -- but who really needs these terms anyway? So unique and engaging is their sound that "Tatopani music" is perhaps the most apt description.

Together since 1994, Tatopani's third release, "Azure," came out last week on their own label. The original trio of Andy Bevan, Christopher Hardy and Robert Belgrade have played together for about a dozen years, and for this album they have added pianist Bruce Stark. With mastery of more than a dozen different instruments among them, they easily weave complex musical textures out of their varied musical experiences.

While all have studied music both in conservatories and with masters of a range of instruments like tabla, kalimba and didgeridoo, the familiar warmth and immediacy of piano, sax and percussion fastens those more exotic sounds into a lyrical totality.

On "Azure" they recombine and recreate disparate traditions with diverse grooves and an intriguing sense of harmony; graceful passages flow together with funky, driving jams in symphony-like majesty -- all based on their eclectic instrumentation. Think you can't dance to didgeridoo? Think again. And call it what you like, you'll dig it just the same.

Tatopani plays Sweet Basil (STB 139) in Roppongi at 8 p.m. on Nov. 24. For more information, call (03) 5474-1395 or visit www.stb139.co.jp or www.tatopani.net

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