Tokuhiro Doi’s Amalthea from 2011 presents a modern jazz quartet from Japan led by the evocative tones of jazz clarinet. Although jazz clarinet can prompt thoughts of bouncy big bands and classic swing music, this album veers more towards dark and mysterious shades that will interest fans of creative modern jazz.

Doi’s mature compositions embrace the sounds of jazz in various settings: mid-tempo walking jazz, energetic and frenetic jazz, and elegiac European classical sounds. Like many other modern recordings, facets of bebop, hard-bop, and cool jazz influences also surface effortlessly in the soulful music.

The woody tone of the clarinet makes the music organic and present, breathy and pure. Doi’s clarinet spins out long strands of wild jazz improvisation on “Velvet Sun” and “Kids ’24-7′” and cheerful poppy jazz on the catchy album closer “Off Duty”. Yet perhaps even more compelling are the meditatively quiet moments on “One Little Spark”, “Euphoria”, and the title track “Amalthea”, where the quartet fashions a Miles Davis/Bill Evans “Blue In Green” mood of atmospheric calm and beauty.

Amalthea by Tokuhiro Doi Quartet

Released in 2011 on D-musica Daiki Music as DMCD-15.

Japanese Names: Tokuhiro Doi 土井徳浩 Koichi Sato 佐藤浩一 Yuhei Honkawa 本川悠平 Tomoyuki Konno 紺野智之

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Jan 7, 2019 (Updated Jul 28, 2021)