小埜涼子 Ryoko Ono (alto saxophone, voice), Rogier Smal (drums, percussion)
Ryoko Ono is one-half of Sax Ruins, the current incarnation of Tatsua Yoshida's febrile Zeuhl-rock project, but as this bracing duo set with French percussionist Rogier Small shows, she's worthy of serious attention as a saxophonist in her own right. Playing the dizzyingly complex music of Ruins requires precise articulation and Ono brings that sharpness to a freer context with aplomb, spiralling through boppish runs and harmolodic riddles, peppering it all with pinched squawks and waspish asides. On one track she switches to a strangely hip vocalese, her gibberish becoming increasingly demented as Smal turns up the heat. The drummer is an excellent foil, driving and physical when he needs to be, while taking inspired detours into metallic percussion abstraction and Sun Ra space trance.
Featuring Ms. Ryoko Ono on alto sax & vocal and Roger Smal on drums. If the name Ryoko Ono sounds familiar, it is because she is a member of Sax Ruins, whose second disc we listed last week (4/8/16). Ms. Ono also has a great solo disc out on Doubt Records which includes the Tatsuya Yoshida (from Ruins) on drums. Amsterdam-based drummer, Rogier Smal has worked with an eclectic cast of characters: Eugene Chadbourne, Marshall Allen and Daevid Allen. Together Ms. Ono & Mr. Smal make a most formidable duo! This sounds like a studio date and the sound is well-captured. There is a strong, spirited dialogue going on here. The duo take their time and start often quietly on the second piece, building in intensity throughout. The exchange back and forth is most extraordinary and intricate, even telepathic at times as they enter twine perfectly. There is a good deal of more subdued moments here in between those blast of fire. The more restrained pieces are much more diverse then one would imagine. There times when Ms. Ono sounds like John Zorn when she pushes the pedal to the metal with quick, zigzagging lines, circular-breathing is short bursts, bending those multi phonic notes inside-out and even dipping her mouthpiece into a glass of water, an old trick that Mr. Zorn used to do in the early days of the Downtown scene. This is a most extraordinary duo, one that won't be beat anytime soon I predict. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Half- facetiously Emily Remler once joked that she wasn’t really a young female Jazz guitarist, but the reincarnation of an old male jazz guitarist from years earlier. The same jape could be applied to Ryoko Ono. Instead of really being a young saxophonist from Nagoya, Japan, she could be the reincarnation of Cleveland’s Albert Ayler, who would be 80 of he was alive today, a lot older than Wes Montgomery or Grant Green would have been if Remler saw them in the 1970s.
At the same time in terms of the ferocity, the way she and Dutch drummer Rogier Smal blitzkreig the nine untitled tracks have the velocity and power of fictional Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnel showing how the usual zero to 10 volume knob goes up to 11. From the get-go, like the desiccated vocal tones of her namesake, Yoko Ono, Ono’s reed program is nearly always altissimo pitched or higher, sharper than a fencing saber and shrill enough to inflect flesh wounds on any of the ears’ receptor organs. On “Wood Moon 4” she moans in a raspy, syllable-retching delivery that makes the vocalizations of Ayler and Y. Ono appear almost dulcet. With sophisticated technical command of her instrument as well, she tongues elongated phrases from her alto without a pause almost before she finishes intoning.
Ken Waxman / Jazzword
released May 1, 2020
Ryoko Ono: Saxophone, vocals
Rogier Smal: Drums, percussion
Artwork and design by Simon Fowler
JVT0016 / TOZ017 (Jvtlandt / Toztizok Zoundz 2016)