Hiroshi Fukutomi: Memory Stones
Memory Stones is the 2014 album from guitarist Hiroshi Fukutomi, his second album after his debut Rings of Saturn (2010). On this 57-minute recording of Fukutomi’s original music, the guitarist leads a quartet featuring Koichi Sato on piano and Rhodes, Koji Yasuda on bass, and Ryo Noritake on drums.
With Fukutomi’s compositions and his guitar taking center stage, the quartet’s sound is definitely that of a jazz guitar leader’s band. The sound of the jazz guitar is varied, however, and his tone switches between mellow and fluid electric guitar sound to clear and articulate acoustic guitar, coloring the compositions with distinct personalities to suit the song style. Some guitar effects are also used tastefully to add textural layers while preserving the core sound of pure guitar expressiveness.
Adding to the sonic mix is Koichi Sato’s use of both acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes keyboard. While the songs with acoustic piano have more of an acoustic jazz combo feel (naturally), several album highlights (#2, “Minor King”, #8, “Memory Stones”) feature the Rhodes together with electric guitar, bass, and drums to create the cool and controlled sound of jazz bordering on fusion with a light rock beat pulse.
This modern groove sound and the variation in instrumentation are well-suited to the structures and compositional extras that Fukutomi includes in certain songs. Several interludes, codas, and odd-meter time signatures increase the overall variety with the feeling of bonus surprises. Yet the charts do not get in the way of the soloists and the band is tightly coordinated, and each member gets their turn to make musical statements along with the leader.
The final two tracks close the album with friendly, down-to-earth elements to the already easily approachable music. On #9, “Mawaru Sekai”, Fukutomi adds his harmonica playing to the quartet, while the final song #10, “Trees & Branches”, features Fukutomi alone for a quiet guitar ballad played with emotion and soul, conjuring the bittersweet feeling of parting, for now.
Memory Stones by Hiroshi Fukutomi
Hiroshi Fukutomi - electric guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Koichi Sato - piano, Rhodes
Koji Yasuda - bass
Ryo Noritake - drums
Released in 2014 on MOF Records as MOF-101.
Japanese names: Hiroshi Fukutomi 福冨博 (Fukutomi Hiroshi) Koichi Sato 佐藤浩一 (Sato Koichi) Koji Yasuda 安田幸司 (Yasuda Koji) Ryo Noritake 則武諒 (Noritake Ryo)
Audio and Video
Excerpt from “Minor King”, track #2 on this album: