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Best of 2011: Shinpei Ruike 4 Piece Band “Sector b”

by Sean Smith

Special To The Japan Times

As member of the ultra-hip Naruyoshi Kikuchi Dub Sextet, Shinpei Ruike has developed an instantly identifiable sound and is arguably the best trumpeter of his generation in Japan.

“Sector b,” his second album as leader, shows the full spectrum of Ruike’s sound. Each of the seven tracks has a distinctive mood, all of them refracted through the prism of his 4 Piece Band. The stylish drum ‘n’ bass sounds of the opening track “Obsession,” and the plaintive muted trumpet of “Atom,” are perhaps the two most instantantly likeable tunes on the album. Lady Gaga’s electropop smash “Poker Face” is reinvented as a sophisticated jazz ballad. Perhaps the real standout tune, though, is the hard-hitting polyrhythmic number “GL/JM,” which is complex, exotic and incredibly infectious.

Accomplished and stylish, “Sector b” proves that jazz can continue to be both innovative and accessible in the 21st century.

What I’m looking forward to in 2012: The electrifying in-yo-face jazz of Ethnic Minority’s first album, “Startin’. “