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The Japanese-born, Berlin-based pianist Aki Takase is known as an outstanding free improviser, although her discography is also studded with affectionate tributes to figures from all periods of jazz history, WC Handy to Ornette Coleman. New Blues is partly a follow-up to her 2004 disc Plays ‘Fats’ Waller, with the same rambunctious group (minus trumpeter Thomas Heberer) tackling more Waller and Takase compositions, though there’s a more varied track-list here, with pieces by Handy, King Oliver and ‘Jelly Roll’ Morton too.

Takase obviously loves this music; her arrangements reaffirm its sly humour and radical energy, while her own compositions filter its spirit into more capricious, modernistic contexts. Her versatile piano may be easier to appreciate solo, but here she leads her ensemble with aplomb, probing at the edges of these raucous outbursts and desolate laments, reconfiguring the blues.

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