With June French-Japanese Kaze up the ante
as the band expands both in size and scope
Kaze's original line-up (pianist Satoko Fujii, drummer Peter Orins, and trumpeters Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost) are joined by two additional French nationals, pianist Sophie Agnel and drummer Didier Lasserre to form Trouble Kaze and venture further in free improvisation territory
The five-part suite was recorded during the band's third performance at La Malterie in Lille, France, a venue that serves as an incubator for artists and also presents concerts. By that time, the sextet had already decided to change their modus operandi. Initially, Orins had envisioned having a road map that would structure the improvisation. By the second concert, they had already given up on that process. This explains why the music develops so organically, with spaces left to silence and minimalism, as the artists work on textures and create a sense of mystery-it is sometimes difficult to identify who is responsible for the otherworldly sounds that can be heard throughout the recording.
While the music is deeply steeped in abstraction, the musicians know when to inject a touch of humor or let their emotions run free. The second part ends with a slow crescendo while the third one concludes in a joyous chaos. The band make extensive use of extended techniques-a term that describes unconventional use of an instrument-including Pruvost's signature of a plastic tube to blow in his trumpet, with Orins and Lasserre in the roles of percussionists rather than drummers. Agnel and Lasserre perfectly blend with the other members of the band. "Very quickly, Christian and I thought about Sophie and Didier because we've known them and played with them for years," Orins says. "To get Sophie and Satoko to play together was very dear to me as well."
Fujii and Tamura originally met Orins in 2002 when the pianist's quartet shared a bill with the drummer's collective Impression in his hometown of Lille, France. Nearly a decade later they crossed paths again and Orins suggested a collaboration with Pruvost, inaugurating Kaze as a quartet with unusual instrumentation. As a quartet Kaze has released three acclaimed recordings: 2011's Rafale which earned a place on numerous best of the year lists as "a stunning achievement from note one" (NYC Jazz Record), 2013's "highly original" Tornado, and 2015's Uminari which the London Jazz News called "...bold, uncompromising music."
From 2013 - late 2016, Satoko Fujii and husband Natsuki Tamura split their time between Tokyo and Berlin. During that time, they deepened their musical relationship with Orins and Pruvost who have now become their closest collaborators. The two Frenchmen were even invited to join Fujii's Orchestra Tokyo on their latest recording, Peace (Libra). Trouble Kaze also illustrates Satoko Fujii's desire to expand her horizons and develop new musical partnerships as witnessed recently with the debut album of her Orchestra Berlin (Ichigo Ichie, Libra) or a duo recording with bass player Joe Fonda (Duet, Long Song Records).
Orins and Pruvost are the pillars of Muzzix, a collective based in Lille and comprised of about 30 musicians. Recently, as members of Muzzix, they collaborated with another French collective called Dedalus to record Moondog (aka Louis Hardin): Round the World of Sound (New World Records), a work dedicated to the maverick composer.
Sophie Agnel and Didier Lasserre have built a solid reputation within the French free improvisation scene. Agnel is a 2014-18 member of the Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ) and can be heard on the critically-acclaimed Europa-Rome (ONJ Records), while Lasserre has recently been delving into the duo format with performance artist Ly Thanh Tién, trumpeter Jean-Luc Cappozzo from the Globe Unity Orchestra, or legendary guitarist Raymond Boni.
Critics and fans alike hail pianist and composer Satoko Fujii as one of the most original voices in jazz today. In concert and on 80 albums as a leader or co-leader, she synthesizes jazz, contemporary classical, avant-rock and Japanese folk music into an innovative music instantly recognizable as hers alone. She has also established herself as one of the world's leading composers for large jazz ensembles, leading Cadence magazine to call her, "the Ellington of free jazz." Her ultimate goal: "I would love to make music that no one has heard before."
Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura is internationally recognized for his ability to blend a unique vocabulary of extended techniques with touching jazz lyricism. Since 2005, Tamura has focused on the intersection of European folk music and sound abstraction with Gato Libre, a group now featuring Tamura, Fujii on accordion and Yasuko Kaneko on trombone. In 2006 he co-founded the collaborative trio Junk Box with Fujii and drummer John Hollenbeck.