“Guitarist Nobuki Takamen is … quite talented. Born in Japan but based out of New York City during recent years, Takamen is inspired most by Wes Montgomery (particularly when he plays octaves), swings well at fast tempos, and sounds most contemporary when stretching out on ballads. Three Wishes, which was recorded in Tokyo, has Takamen performing eight originals and “Scarborough Fai” with bassist Toshiyuki Tanahashi, either Naoki Aikawa or Akihito Yoshikawa on drums and, on two numbers, pianist Hitoshi Kanda. From bebop to introspective ballads, Nobuki Takamen shows throughout Three Wishes (his fourth album as a leader) that he is ready to be taken seriously as a major jazz guitarist.” – Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene
”… a mature player with keen sense of composition, considerable technical skills…” -John Heidt, Vintage Guitar Magazine
”… prodigious technique… strong and lyrical melodies akin to James Taylor’s, which sink into the mind, inviting subconsious lyric-writing from even the most casual listen.” -Dave Major, AllAboutJazz
3 ? STARS / DOWNBEATÖ
“On the opening track to Three Wishes, Nobuki Takamen’s fourth album as a leader, the guitarist serves up roller-coaster, angular melodies, played with care on a clear guitar, picking out one crisp note at a time, letting it ring out before moving to the next. He occasionally moves to a vertical approach, playing short chordal phrases, but he mostly sticks to horizontal movement, his some- what disjunct playing pulling the song forward.
The next tune, “Freddie’s Mood,” presents an entirely different Takamen. Heavily syncopat- ed funk chords set the mood over a martial snare rhythm by drummer Akihito Yoshikawa. Even Takamen’s solo is more liquid, with figures flow- ing together in short runs and fewer large leaps between the notes. He’s still the same player, of course, but this different approach highlights his reluctance to play in a singular style.
He slows the mood down considerably on a handful of tunes as well. “Underground Theme Song,” after a funky solo bass intro, morphs into a fragile tune based on soft chords and a quiet mel- ody. “Greenwich Village Sometimes” has the same overall delicate feeling to it, but stands as one of the two times piano is added to the mix. Takamen is best, and is likely most comfortable, in a simple trio setting, but the addition of anoth- er harmonic instrument adds a rich layer to the compositions.
One of the standouts on the album is Takamen’s arrangement of “Scarborough Fair,” which begins with haunting, ethereal chords before evolving into a breakneck piece of swing. Just like “Scarborough,” his closing number, “Homeward Bound” begins as a hopeful bal- lad, then, seven minutes in, Takamen throws in a hard-rocking coda to give the song the twist he seems to add to every composition on the album.” -Downbeat