Patrick Shiroishi and Jeff Tobias – s/t

2.24.22 by Matty McPherson

“I always happen to be like the inaugural or almost-inaugural release on these tape labels! I don’t know how it keeps happening.” I’m paraphrasing a snippet of a conversation from last time I had a chat with Patrick. It was in regards to the fact that a LOT of tapes that feature Patrick’s dabbling in free jazz have comically low catalog numbers (seriously, do the numbers). It’s a streak that’s more funny and coincidental than anything else, yet it continues with CAT 008 on Topo Press. The latest “low catalog number Patrick Shiroishi free jazz tape” is sometimes hot and swinging, always devious, and perhaps (most importantly,) a real exploration of the duality and tenacity of the sopranino saxophone.

A dueling sopranino saxophone tape isn’t the newest idea under the sun; of course, everyone knows that it’s about WHOEVER is on the bill. And Shiroishi being joined by Jeff Tobias is naturally a bloodbath massacre for the ages. Both are officially seasoned Astral Spirits veterans as much as poly-instrumentalists and their Los Angeles recording session is a premiere time for the two to just cut down to the current state of things and start landing JABS! Hell, the Shiroishi/Tobias sopranino effort doesn’t even open with a stretch break, warmup or round 1 bell. And that’s not a bug nor a feature, just a straightforward blessing! Straight layers of saxophone into sweltering noise not far removed from a cosmic modular synth place us en media res. The first track captures a tad of Shiroishi’s intensity from Oort Smog while Tobias, too, plays on offense. It’s a massive change of pace from Tobias summer effort on AS, no longer playing catchup, but actively countering Shiroishi or actually layering with him to lay down bona fide power combos. The second track is more spread for both players, less offensive and more towards the defense with each other in a friendly sparring manner, actually letting off small doses of playful notes.

So naturally, it all comes down to round 3, but by this point, Shiroishi and Tobias aren’t out for blood. They’ve swapped recording rooms and in the smallest of spaces, they’ve gone nimble with the ambient and textured sounds they can wield on their sopraninos. Pushing for a reserved form of cooperation, it’s an abstracted account of shadowboxing if you will. Quixotic quips of vapors foreground the piece while the occasional, melodic gaggle finds its way to the surface. It doesn’t dance but for a mere few bars and yet the patience is measured, blipping and chipping as the two improvisers find a shared communique to relay. 

If you’ve continued to be in search of a more varied and loose “this is what we’re feeling RIGHT NOW” tape of two A-level saxophonists, yeah this’ll tickle your fancy. Just don’t expect any winner to be crowned out of this dueling feature–twas was never the point! Although rumor has it “the pair intend to record a follow-up sometime in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-two…”

Edition of 50 available at the Topo Press Webstore Page; Streaming on Bandcamp