Shigeto, Versions Review
Shigeto (Zachary Saginaw) is a drummer, composer, and producer. Shigeto is the name Saginaw records under, but it is also his middle name and his grandfather’s name, which is a tribute to the Japanese branch of Saginaw’s family tree. Shigeto also means “to grow”—appropriate, given Saginaw’s premature birth weight of less than a pound. He has created an intensely creative sound and solo performance setting that incorporates live drumming into his electronic compositions. He learned how to play drums while attending high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With instruction from Vincent York, he learned about the vibrant improvisation and deep rhythms of jazz. Shigeto spent three years studying jazz at the New School in NYC and three more in London, where he began woodshedding, obsessed with learning electronic production. Combine that jazz influence with his natural musical intuition, and you have a unique sound forging music in the electronica genre. Shigeto’s music catalog has sounds of instrumental hip-hop, ambient music, stuttering early IDM, dubstep sub-bass, and jazz house. Shigeto is now approaching decade with Ghostly International, Shigeto is now releasing an adventurous project of live musicians coupled with electronica called, Versions. Versions is the first release featuring a live jazz ensemble presenting his music. The album features reinterpretations of tracks from the following albums Lineage (GI-148), The New Monday (GI-301), and Real Talk. Versions ensemble is frequent collaborators associated with Detroit’s jazz, ambient, hip-hop, and house scenes. The ensemble is Marcus Elliot (tenor saxophone and flute), Ian Fink (keyboards), Brennan Duncan Andes (bass), Dez Andrés (congas), and Christopher Koltay (modular synths).Positives: Beautiful, animated tracks that combine jazz’s visceral improvisation and interaction with the melodic and ambient moods associated with electronica. Bottom Line: Versions features Shigeto arranging four of his electronic pieces for a jazz ensemble. The musicians have the freedom to improvise as Shigeto’s original melodies are re-imagined. The tracks are given new names, but the originals are still obvious. The EP opens with “Back to Basics,” which is based on “In Case You Forgot.” Shigeto and Elliot interact in a free time intro that sets the mood. The melody transfers stunningly to the ensemble; the shifting rhythmic pattern in the harmony is interesting. Elliot’s tenor saxophone playing is atmospheric with a defined melodic and harmonic flow. Fink’s keyboard solo is interactive with Shigeto, and together they create a hip sound. “MCW,” is based on “Field Day.” Shigeto’s set and Andrés’ congas build a stunning rhythmic pad for Andes to lay his bass into and groove. The live ensemble adds a sparkle of energy that takes this melody in new directions. The rhythmic intensity in Elliot’s playing is spot-on. Overall, Versions demonstrates Shigeto’s versatility as a player and composer. Shigeto is a composer, drummer and producer to follow for cutting edge sounds that combine elements of jazz with electronica and jazz house. That’s the short of it!
Connect with Shigeto: Instagram
Back to Basics
River Bank Drive
Release Date: September 20, 2019