The Hub, Edinburgh. 1st August 2009

A day trip through to Edinburgh to catch a couple of gigs at the Edinburgh Jazz (and Blues) Festival. My original plan was to go to Enrico Pieranunzi’s tea-time concert, then catch the Tommy Smith / Makoto Ozone Quartet in the evening. However, I wasn’t convinced I could see all of the evening show and still catch the train back, so I decided to go to see Ozone’s Big Band, No Name Horses, instead.

Makoto Ozone’s No Name Horses.

I don’t know why Japanese Latin jazz intrinsically seems a more bizarre idea than Japanese non-Latin jazz: maybe it’s because jazz has developed into a worldwide language whereas I still think of Latin jazz as firmly rooted in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking communities of the Americas. And Latin Jazz is not my favourite style of the music anyway. So I went along to this out of curiousity as much as anything. But it was excellent.

The concert started with a small piece of theatre: a quartet of Ozone on piano, bass, drums and percussion started playing on stage and then, after a minute or so, the horn players came processing down the aisles, playing as they went.

The set in general was excellent, with crisp ensemble playing and good soloing. Ozone himself came across as the most distinctive soloist, although that might just be because he took took most of the solos and hence had more time to impose his personality. The material, all originals by band members, used a lot of different rhythms and voicings and wasn’t as monotonous as I’d feared it might be. Overall, a very fine afternoon’s music.

And no, I don’t know why the band is called “No Name Horses”.