JACK, on Waverly Avenue in Clinton Hill, is really establishing itself as one of the most forward-looking, exciting places to see music in Brooklyn today. Last night, master percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani played two extraordinary sets. The first was a highly energized solo set that featured him in front of a drum kit while employing a variety of metal percussion pieces–gongs, bowls, and other objects–to create a kaleidoscopic cascade of sounds. He produced the sound of a bigger percussion ensemble by using all four limbs to create independent sounds, often along contrasting lines of thought. Bowls clattered and clanged, drums reverberated, and gongs resonated at such speed that Nakatani drew the audience out of our conscious rigidity into a world of unabated sonic force. This is music that subdues three of the human senses–the flashing movements of the performer accented as if by firelight, the myriad propulsive strikes absorbed by the human body, and of course the aural delight of such high energy sound.
The second set, with the assembled orchestra, was a distinct contrast in experience. The ten performers–none of whom had played gongs extensively before–had only been assembled earlier that day for a two and a half hour rehearsal. Under Nakatani’s direction, their sound grew out of nothingness with deep resonance. The sound from the bigger gongs burned like embers underneath the mid-sized and smaller gongs that gradually soared. The fluid body of sound grew and waned and then grew again as some players switched from handmade bows to mallets and back again. The music was meditative, the gong vibrations washing over the audience. Then, just as the music had emerged, it receded slowly until the sound and silence were one. An enticing experience of new music, the concert adds to the anticipation of what this percussion visionary will do next.
–Cisco Bradley, 1 Feb 2014