Hishakaku Quartet featuring James Macaulay, Niran Dasika, Marty Holoubek and Shun Ishiwaka, release their new album ‘The First Proxy’
The Hishakaku Quartet’s new album The First Proxy is out now on Earshift Music with launch dates in Melbourne and Wangaratta International Jazz Festival. Comprised of 2017 Australian Jazz Award winner and runner up, trombonist James Macaulay and trumpeter Niran Dasika, the chord-less quartet features inspired original compositions from the ensemble, synergetic interplay between the two front line and confluent support from Australian-Japanese rhythm section of Marty Holoubek and drummer Shun Ishiwaka.
The band members have a long collaborative history of working together in groups such as the Lagerphones, Aaron Choulai Quintet, Niran Dasika Quartet, Shun Ishiwaka Clean Up Trio as well as other Tokyo-based projects. The new formation as the Hishakaku Quartet is named after their favourite Yakitori restaurant in Ekoda, which they visited following their recording session.
Macaulay and Holoubek first met Ishiwaka whilst performing with Aaron Choulai in 2014 in Japan, and the musical rapport was instantaneous, particularly in the way Holoubek and Ishiwaka melded so well, able to play with freedom and creativity whilst retaining energy and momentum. This was documented on Choulai’s release Vada Taudia (Apollo Sounds, 2017). Dasika relocated from Melbourne to Tokyo from 2016-2017, quickly becoming an in-demand trumpeter, featured on several albums including Kemano’s Metamoru City (Sony Music Artists Inc), Akihiro Yoshimoto’s Oxymoron (MOR Records), Sumire Kuribayashi’s Pieces of Colour (Somethin’ Cool, also featuring Macaulay) and Ishiwaka’s second solo album Songbook II (YoungS’tones Records). Ishiwaka also features on Dasika’s latest quartet album Suzaku (Apollo Sounds).
Macaulay says of the album, “the atmosphere in the studio was great, we were all having such a good time playing together in this wonderful new context with old friends. I love Japan, and am grateful for the opportunities to not only tour there with the Lagerphones and Aaron Choulai, but to play and record with various local musicians. Every year I make more new friends in the amazing, ever-expanding Tokyo music community. Shun is my favourite drummer - infinitely versatile, virtuosic, creative and damn groovy. Marty is one of my oldest and best friends, as well as sharing many small Japanese apartments over the years! He is strong, creative and fun to work with in a variety of musical contexts. Niran has such a glorious tone and command of the trumpet - I’m so glad we could do this together! I look forward to playing with this band a lot more, and seeing where it takes us!”
Album: The First Proxy
Release: 26th October 2018
Label: Earshift Music distributed by MGM
Personnel: James Macualay – trombone, Niran Dasika – trumpet, Marty Holoubek – double bass, Shun Ishiwaka – drums, melodica.
Album Launch Shows
Wednesday 31st of October – Melbourne
Jazzlab, 27 Leslie street Brunswick, $20/$15 8:30pm
Saturday 3rd of November – Wangaratta
Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, WPAC Hall, 2-3pm
About the Music
Elbow River – (Macaulay)
Elbow River is the name of a casino in Calgary, Canada, where I’d stopped on my way to Banff. When I wrote this shortly afterwards, the title seemed obvious. It explores the idea of rhythmic counterpoint between trumpet and trombone and reflects on the extraordinary landscapes found in Alberta.
The First Proxy (Holoubek)
Tunes and reveries that never come to fruition. It is a meditative ballad where the melody is slowly fragmented between more improvisatory passages. This also features the small technical innovation of the ‘ramen bowl mute’ on the trombone!
Fear of Telephones (Dasika)
Written while procrastinating a particularly terrifying phone call. This song is a slow build, where the trumpet and trombone trade until the climax finally comes towards the end.
Toyocho, Where I Keep Returning (Dasika)
Pathos and beauty found in the mundane, repetitive filing of paperwork and time spent on the Tokyo Metro Tazai Line. A ballad written for the Koto Ward Driver’s Licence Centre. This is a beautiful, hymn like composition with a fascinating structure.
Let Others Be the Judge of You (Holoubek)
When lost within the realms of an insecure mind, reflect upon the people that surround themselves with you. As well as providing insight into Marty’s curious wisdom, this is an upbeat number with a big groove which alternates between 3/4 and 5/4.
Himawari is the Japanese word for sunflower. This is a gentle, personal ballad, which took a long time to find an adequate title for. A love song without words.
The Land Without Rice (Dasika)
An ode to crushing isolation and its virtues. This is an introspective piece based an ostinato, where the trumpet solo eventually leads into a long, philosophical sort of melody.
Just Came out of Tecoma (Macaulay)
I used to teach chess at a primary school in Tecoma, which is a beautiful part of Melbourne on the way to Belgrave. I’d been playing some music by Tim Berne, and was fascinated by his use of active, often dissonant counterpoint.
New Waltz Instead of Breakfast (Macaulay)
A self-explanatory title. Music can often lead one to procrastinate before even the most fundamental daily tasks. This is a simple waltz that captures quite a melancholic mood.
Snack Bar (Holoubek)
Deep within the ever-expanding suburbia of western Tokyo lies a snack bar where dreams come true. But whose dreams are they really? This is a more funky composition of Marty’s, where he and Shun lock in fiercely and wonderfully together. The title refers to a small snack bar in Toshimaen where we sung karaoke all night with local friends.
Sunset of Dissolution (Holoubek)
An album closer. This is a ballad that certainly evokes the enigmatic title. It also features Shun, who is an incredible multi-instrumentalist, on the melodica, which he’d just bought at a shop around the corner from the studio after we’d had lunch!