On this companion to Heritage, which was released in February, keyboardist Mark de Clive-Lowe further explores the Japanese side of his dual Japanese-New Zealander identity, drawing on the sound of traditional music from the region to flesh out his vibrant jazz compositions. On Heritage II, he harnesses a live band sound and tackles multiple roles himself, handling synths, programming, and “live remixing.”
While Heritage II is a commanding statement on its own, there’s a strong sense of continuity with volume one. “O-Edo Nihonbashi,” a reimagined Japanese folk song, is a parallel of sorts to “Akatombo” from Heritage, with alto saxophonist Josh Johnson making the first of several compelling melodic contributions on flute, a sound that instantly heightens the song’s mystical mood. “Bushidō II” has a more agitated electronic feel than the earlier “Bushidō 1,” while “Mizugaki (reprise)” briefly sets the tune’s main melody in calmer waters, with a floating tempo but no drum beat. On “Ryūgū-jō,” de Clive-Lowe brings violinist Tylana Enomoto on board, varying the sound more still; with “Shitennō” he toggles between a stark Eastern melody and a beautiful chord cycle reminiscent of neo-soul, turning Johnson loose on alto. Drummer Brandon Combs and bassist Brandon Eugene Owens are at their upbeat funkiest on “The Silk Road,” keeping the dance feel firmly in the mix.