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Tatsuya Nakatani’s First Sound: A Cymbal Sideways on the Snare

As New Orleans recovers from Jazz Fest, we may find ourselves wanting to stay far away from crowds, guitar pickups,  and speakers. Luckily, there is a musician visiting who will be so far from "Jazz" as we know it, perhaps any music, as to be an antidote.

His name is Tatsuya Nakatani, and we have Rob Cambre and Anxious Sound to thank for bringing him back.  “Founded in 1997 and based in New Orleans, Anxious Sound presents concerts of improvised music, free jazz, avant-rock, noise, electronic and new adventurous music of all stripes” (From Facebook). The series brought us Philadelphia percussionist and New Orleans favorite Nakatani on Tuesday, December 14th at the Allways Lounge with Cambre and Bill Hunsinger. HOW GRATEFUL I AM was my consuming thought upon Nakatani’s first sound: a cymbal sideways on the snare. A re-invention of the drum kit.

A cymbal sideways on the snare, a perfect metaphor for what Nakatani’s music whispered, plucked, gonged: WAKE UP, NEW ORLEANS! The trio used traditional music-making materials (double bass, electric guitar, drum kit) in as many non-traditional ways possible: Hunsinger wove flexible sticks between bass strings and THUH-WUMPed them, like a mouth harp; Nakatani pressed his mouth on the snare head, producing a euphoric psychic harmonica sound; Cambre rosined up his bow to make sweet music on the electric guitar. All three musicians also had brief forays into extremely adept “conventional” playing: Nakatani’s complex drum fills, Cambre’s rock star riffs, Hunsinger’s rhythm. The extreme to which these musicians PUSHED their instruments and abilities–to limits, to new frontiers–is an inspiring parallel for any field. What happens when you push leadership to new capacities? Science? Love?

It has been a while since I have felt truly suspended from thoughts, worries, and ideas as the wave of sound pulled me in. I grinned uncontrollably during certain synchronizations, bobbed rhythmically to parts, and frowned wide-eyed during intonations of SAD, of DESTROY, of BUILD. The trio constructed a complex, abstract soundscape which language cannot translate, and in which a huge range of experiences is embedded, like the timeline of tide covering sand: exact, yet untraceable.

Anxious Sound newsletters keep me abreast of the experimental music series. Rob Cambre’s ingenuous descriptions alone are worth joining the email list.


Monday May 9, 8:00pm @Zeitgeist, 1618 Oretha Castle Haley

New Orleans edition of the Gong Orchestra includes: HELEN GILLET, DONALD MILLER, BILL HUNSINGER and more....


Anxious Sound & Open Ears Music Series present:


2nd set, playing after John Madere Group

Tuesday May 10, 10:00pm @the Blue Nile (upstairs), 532 Frenchmen Street