Taiko Saito : Marimba & Vibraphone
Tobias Schirmer : Clarinet & Bass Clarinet
Niko Meinhold : Piano
If in a recent past it was a rarity, nowadays more and more classical musicians find in improvisation – and inclusively in the jazz language – an extra medium of musical creativity. That’s the case of the vibraphonist and marimba player Taiko Saito, complementing that dual frame with aspects coming from the Japanese tradition. An interpreter of the music of contemporary composer Sofia Gubaidulina who also played with marimba virtuoso Keiko Abe, David Friedman and free improv with Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Saito co-founded a duo with the German avant-jazz pianist Niko Meinhold, responding with the album “KOKO” (2006) to the emblematic “Crystal Silence” (1973), by the ground-breaking vibraphone-piano duet of Gary Burton and Chick Corea.
They found in that ECM record a path to explore and the result was an enlargement of the previously opened perspectives. Other incursions combining the two instruments happened meanwhile, and it was time for Saito and Meinhold to search other possibilities: the duo KOKO became the trio KOKOTOB, adding Tobias Schirmer and his soprano and bass clarinets to the interactions. The context continues to be the one of chamber jazz and the approach is still experimental, but now a breathing quality, of Schirmer’s responsibility, is added to the vibrational character of the already known delicate and meditative – but abruptly contrasted with cutting-edge situations – musical world inhabited by Saito and Meinhold. A welcomed new episode of a work-in-progress that certainly will give us more surprises.