Stomu Yamashta – Music News

Stomu Yamashta was born to be a musician. His father was the director of the Kyoto Philharmonic Orchestra and after studying at the Kyoto School of Music, he joined the orchestra as a percussionist in 1960. It is therefore not surprising that his music is strongly percussive.

He moved to Europe in the mid-sixties, playing with notable composers and conductors of classical and avant-garde music and developing his style along the way. In 1969, he gained worldwide recognition during a concert with Seiji Ozawa and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Time reviewed the concert stating that “the star of the evening was Stomu Yamash’ta who stole the show with his virtuoso performance”, and when it was over the audience gave him a five-minute standing ovation.

So, to this collection. He recorded seven albums for Island Records from 1972 to 1976, developing jazz and classical fusion themes. In the beginning, the characteristics were the balance of percussion and piano as well as drawing on tuned steel pipes and a xylophone. The albums here combine a number of soundtrack albums with four albums of his own compositions in more than one album structure.

Throughout the albums, it’s fascinating to hear the music touching both western and eastern forms, always with a strong percussive feel but also drawing inspiration from some of the best progressive musicians around. Artists such as Steve Winwood, Hugh Hopper, Michael Shrieve, Al Di Meola, Klaus Schulze, Pat Thrall worked with him to develop his intense and atmospheric soundscapes.

At times the music is hypnotic, at others passionately driving, and at others presenting a huge musical soundstage where the listener is invited to weave their way through complex themes and structures.

There are moments in this box that are boring but I found myself drawn, again and again, into the complex interactions and strands. A wonderful collection of music that has many faults but also many more triumphs.