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Terumasa Hino and DJ Honda “Aftershock”

by Mariko Lochridge

While many artists claim they are taking the next step in music, breaking rules and pushing boundaries, most of the time I find the effort merely results in the same melodies being pitched an octave higher. As the old adage goes, in order to break the rules you have to know them first, and with nearly a century of experience between them, Japanese jazz artist Terumasa Hino and hip-hop’s DJ Honda know the rules well.

Though collaborations between hip-hop and jazz aren’t unheard of, Hino and Honda wanted to create an album with a live-house sound. Instead of inviting a percussionist to take part in this jam session, Honda provided the beats with his own production and live scratching.

The album opens with a number that would be more at home on the soundtrack of a sci-fi film than a speakeasy stage. Quickly, however, the baseline in “Inert Motion” is punctuated by Hino’s trumpet, then joined by a wild freestyle of piano keys and guitar riffs. Second track “Chip Talk” continues the experiment, but it isn’t until title track “Aftershock” hits that the album’s desired balance between genres can be really heard. Honda’s skillful scratching mixes with Hino’s soulful trumpet to create smooth, jazzy hip-hop.

The remaining tracks take a more conservative approach to the fusion. “Isn’t Always” favors jazz and Honda’s contribution is subtle. On “TKNY02,” however, the roles are reversed with Hino’s trumpet playing a supporting role to Honda’s decks. “TKNY02″ is a track hip-hop heads would normally expect from Honda.

Many musicians nowadays are collaborating by simply emailing their parts to one another. With this collaboration, however, you can’t help but feel Hino and Honda feed off one another, which gives it an intimacy few can still pull off.

Terumasa Hino and DJ Honda play Blue Note in Minami Aoyama, Tokyo, on July 25 and 26 (7 p.m. and 9 :30 p.m.; ¥6,300; [03] 5485-0088). For details, visit www.bluenote.co.jp, www.terumasa.com, or www.dj.honda.co.jp.