"4 Hands" shows 2 geniuses in our time, Cecil Taylor and Yosuke Yamashita. They are playing in free improvisation style, banging 2 pianos in 45min. I put an introduction to that by interviewing them, shooting rehearsal sessions, back stage and off stage. It was very exciting experiences for me to work with such geniuses whom I have been appreciating their music for a long time.
Yosuke-san is the most popular jazz pianist in Japan. I have been listening to his music since mid '70s, in parallel with music from NY and London, so -called punk rock and post punk music. For me, at that time, his atonal sound was common to those new sounds and both have been a modern sound, even now. When I finished my former film (it is about Japanese band and people around them recognized as pioneers for playing rock music in Japanese lyrics), I asked Yosuke-san to make something with me and then I knew that he dreamed playing with Cecil Taylor, whom Yosuke-san assumed as his master. Then he went to NY to invite Cecil to Tokyo. Cecil accepted that offer. So the concert was mainly Yosuke- san's plan. I interviewed him in advance the concert. He told the story about their relationship, mentioning honestly how he respected Cecil's music. His story is one of the essential features of this film.
Before I met Cecil, I guessed he might be like Master Yoda from Star Wars with extraordinary "force". Actually, he is the most huge-minded person I ever met. He makes anyone working with him feel free in its profound meanings. Interview with Cecil was becoming like Zen questions and answers, because I thought Cecil was the best person to answer such kind of fundamental questions, like 'What is Jazz?" or "What is music?" (like "Belmondo-Fuller Qs and As in Godard film"). He answered the questions by another "koan" with extraordinary performances and perfect lines improvising just at the time. They put interesting senses to the film and become one of the highlights of the film.
And, of course, their performance by 2 pianos is the heart of this film. I prepared 8 cameras for showing their 45 minutes performance. Before shooting I did not have any information how long their performance was and also Cecil did play an only piano or not (because we all knew he would love dancing and reading poem). Nobody, I mean including Cecil and Yosuke-san, knew what would be happening on the stage. It was very rare situation but everybody involved in were enjoying the situation. In this way, all things are improvised right at the time. It characterized this film profoundly.
When the performance was done, I started editing those materials. It took very long time to edit. But I had enjoyed editing and was glad finishing the film.
I hope you will like this film and appreciate the beauty in their music. Anyway, enjoy the sound of 4 Hands.
Yasuhiko Shirai, director