Hideaki Hori: Horizon
Jazz pianist Hideaki Hori kicked off his recording career 20 years ago, and it all started with this debut album Horizon from 2003. Since then, he’s released another 20 albums as leader in his nearly 30-year career under his own name or as the group “Encounter” with saxophonist Wataru Hamasaki. As a session musician and recording partner, Hori has also played on more than 160 albums for many notable Japanese and international acts including “Dreams Come True”, “Paris Match”, Eddie Henderson, Mabumi Yamaguchi, and many others. It’s an impressive resume for an accomplished pianist who’s still actively playing live music somewhere in front of an audience almost every day.
The nine tracks on Horizon are roughly split between a piano trio and a quartet formation which adds tenor saxophone player Hideki Kawamura. The core trio itself, with Hori and bassist Tetsuyuki Kishi, is also of two forms, with drummers Manabu Hashimoto and Noboyuki Komatsu sharing rhythm duties on different songs. Each drummer’s distinct touch adds even more dynamic variety to the album as the trios and quartets switch up members.
From the starting gate of the first track “Spinning”, the quartet bursts out with a supreme John Coltrane energy, giving a first impression of unrelentingly hard-driving modern jazz music. From track two on, the energy is moderated somewhat, with Hori’s original compositions varying between mid-to-uptempo swing and ballads with contemporary jazz with a bright, positive, and most importantly fun feeling throughout. The “Giant Steps”-inspired final composition “Giant Stride” (Coltrane’s influence appearing again) bookends the high-energy first track with another exciting take, imprinting thrilling, attention-grabbing moments on the way out.
Despite being his first album, Hori is definitely in the zone on Horizon, comfortably and confidently launching his recording career on solid footing… not to mention his nimble fingers, jazz fluency, and unflagging spirit. It’s authentic, jazz-loving music that feels right in place as a great example of Japanese jazz releases from the last twenty years.
(Translated from the original Japanese liner notes written by Hideaki Hori.)
This was written for the Teganuma Jazz Festival held in 2002. While playing with Shinnosuke Takahashi (drums), this is a work that I explored and interpreted in my own way. It’s a complex piece in 15/4 time.
Three Pieces For Happiness
I remember spending such an enjoyable time with the members of a great trio who came from New York. This is the first song I wrote out of the nine songs on this album.
A piece that shines with Nobuyuki Komatsu’s (drums) sensitive drumming. It’s a song that I wrote in about thirty minutes, and I think I was able to express the melody that came out of me honestly.
This title came about because the song was first played on the night of a full moon. Within the difficult 7/4 time signature, there is a sense of melancholy heard in the melody… it’s that kind of song. Hats off to Manabu Hashimoto (drums) and his large-scale time sensitivity.
The Words of Mr. Kenny K.
A song dedicated to Kenny Kirkland (piano) whom I greatly admire and respect. The title comes from the words he left alongside his autograph at one of my shows when he came to Japan. This also was written while I was studying his composition methods and usage of notes, so it also has the meaning of “Mr. Kenny K’s manner of speaking” as well. This is my favorite among all my pieces, and no matter how many times I play it, it still feels fresh as if I am playing it for the first time.
When I wrote this song, it was often the first song I played at live shows, so that’s how this title came about. Hideki Kawamura’s (tenor sax) solid and mellow sound fits this song very well.
I wrote this piece because I wanted to try to create a mysterious song with sort of a bebop or free jazz feeling. The solo part is a normal blues progression, but when you peel it back, the theme continues to flow as a motif.
The Horizon, You Can See
This song was written for a friend who is currently battling against an illness. I wanted to express my friend’s pure heart in sound. This song, composed in rubato throughout, would not have been possible to express without the presence of Tetsuyuki Kishi (bass).
I tried to interpret the famous tune “Giant Steps” (John Coltrane) in my own way. I used the original song’s melody as a bass line for this song and created a new chord progression, on top of which I played a modified version of the original melody as a motif. As expected, Hideki Kawamura (tenor sax) performed this challenging piece enthusiastically at first sight.
A few years ago at a year-end performance after party, alto saxophonist Shinobu Ishizaki (石崎忍) said “The goal next year is for each of us to write one original song!” I have a feeling that this was entirely the impetus for making this album. Although I have been involved somehow or other in writing music since I was a child, this was the moment that I consciously started to work seriously on composing.
Taking this opportunity, began to put my energy into composing music in parallel with performing. I gradually accumulated songs that I liked, songs popular with the group members, and songs for people who don’t know much about jazz. And now, with this music, I want to express my current sensibilities and preserve them in this recorded sound.
The group members who performed on this album are the youngest and the most active in Japan’s jazz scene. Above all, they understood my songs 120% and breathed life 200% into them. They are truly the best members. I want to thank these four from the bottom of my heart. Thank you!
The recording was made in one room with one take each. All nine songs were completed in a day.
This album was completed with the kindness and cooperation of many people. I’m grateful to those who have strengthened me, advised me, and inspired me. To these so many people, I can’t express my appreciation enough.
Please take your time and enjoy listening to the footprints of 23-year-old Hideaki Hori.
January 10, 2023, Hideaki Hori
Horizon by Hideaki Hori
Hideaki Hori - piano
Tetsuyuki Kishi - bass
Manabu Hashimoto - drums (#1, 4, 5, 8)
Nobuyuki Komatsu - drums (#2, 3, 6, 7, 9)
Hideki Kawamura - tenor sax (#1, 2, 6, 9)
Released in 2003 on BQ Records as BQR-2022.
Japanese names: Hideaki Hori 堀秀彰 Tetsuyuki Kishi 岸徹至 Manabu Hashimoto 橋本学 Nobuyuki Komatsu 小松伸之 Hideki Kawamura 河村英樹
Hideaki Hori Trio: In My Words (2010)
Hikari Ichihara Group: Move On (2010)
Maki Fujimura: Best Wishes (2013)
Hideaki Hori Trio: Unconditional Love (2014)
Duo Tremolo: Resonance (2019)
Audio and Video
Excerpt from “Sliding Doors”, track #7 on this album: