release date: 19.08.2022 on bandcamp
Trumpeter-composer Natsuki Tamura’s New Solo Album Iyaho Focuses on his Astonishing Vocalizing
“When he sings, it is in no known language . . . and the melodies tend toward minimal simplicity, like Buddhist chants from an alien planet.” ― Jon Davis, Exposé
“Tamura shrewdly creates a sound world that, while completely his own, also hints at the mythological and musical folklore of Asian and European cultures.” ― Ken Waxman, Jazzweekly
On Iyaho, Natsuki Tamura’s latest album available exclusively on Bandcamp, the trumpeter-composer returns to the unaccompanied solo format for the sixth time in his career. This time, however, he adds a few new twists, focusing on his enigmatic vocalizing and recent interest in home-made percussion as well as his lyrical trumpet playing. Recording at his home studio, Tamura also overdubs voice, percussion, and trumpet into performances that are truly beyond category. “I never think about whether it is jazz or not,” Tamura says. “I just express the music that comes out of me.”
Voice has always been an adjunct to my work,” Tamura says. “So this time I decided to put the spotlight on the voice.” Like everything else about Tamura’s music, his vocals are utterly unique. He sings or chants nonsense syllables that resemble an unknown language. Sounding like ceremonial chants or folksongs at times, they are mysterious, sometimes whimsical and comic, and oddly moving. “Nonsense words come out very naturally to me,” Tamura says, “It’s easier than meaningful words!”
Tamura’s cryptic singing, juxtaposed with his jazz-inflected trumpet and his kitchen-implement percussion, transform a surreal combination of influences and sounds into an arresting sonic world. On “Sagahogenaga” Tamura intones the name of the title as if it were a religious incantation. The percussion that accompanies it adds an enigmatic dimension. His percussion arsenal, consisting of woks, pots and other cooking implements, create unfamiliar tones and timbres. Tamura isn’t a trained drummer, so he plays percussion with a talented amateur’s enthusiasm. The raw technique and unusual sounds resemble a kind of folk music from another world. On top of it all he adds the hushed beauty of his trumpet, playing simple melodies that straddle jazz and folk music. The results are enchanting, even charming, although a bit strange. “Mesahoji” is less ritualistic, more as if you are listening to an elder storyteller narrate an ancient legend. The vocals on “Karakara” resemble bird song and evokes the natural world.
One track each of solo percussion and solo trumpet round out the album. On “August Wok,” the kitchen-items percussion lend a dadaist touch to Tamura’s sly musical imagination. Stately phrases unfold, combine, and evolve in an organic progression, colored by the odd sonorities of the household appliances. “August Tp” features Tamura’s muted trumpet, and although it’s entirely instrumental, you can hear echoes of the human voice in grumbling low notes that resemble Tamura’s own singing.
Tamura will continue his ambitious plan to release a new album on Bandcamp every other month for the remainder of the year:
- Coming in October isa new composition for five trumpets. A first for Tamura, the unique group will record the new music live in the studio. Tamura has enlisted Ali Morimoto, Masafumi Ezaki, Nobuki Yamamoto, and Rabito Arimoto, fellow trumpeters from Kobe and Osaka, each of whom is a strong creative force in his respective city’s creative music scene.
- Tamura’s busy year concludes in December with another live studio recording,a duet with drummer Ittetsu Takemura. An exciting, versatile musician, Takemura is one of the most in-demand drummers in Japan. He is a member of pianist Satoko Fujii’s Tokyo Trio and appears on their debut CD,Moon on the Lake. “I’m going to arrange a song that I played at the FONT(Festival of New Trumpet) 20 years ago,” he says of his plans for the album.
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Japanese trumpeter and composer Natsuki Tamura is internationally recognized for a unique musical vocabulary that blends jazz lyricism with extended techniques. In 1997, he and Satoko Fujii, who is also his wife, released their first duo album, How Many? (Leo Lab). They have recorded eight CDs together, including 2021’s Keshin (Libra). Tamura’s collaborations with Fujii reveal an intense musical empathy and have garnered wide popular and critical acclaim. Kurt Gottschalk writes in the New York City Jazz Record that their rapport “feels like a secret language … It’s rare to sense this level of intuition between musicians.”
2003 was a breakout year for Tamura as a bandleader, with the release of Hada Hada (Libra), featuring his free jazz-avant rock quartet with Fujii on synthesizer. In 2005, he made a 180-degree turn with the debut of his all acoustic Gato Libre quartet, focusing on the intersection of European folk music and sound abstraction. Now a trio, their previous CD is Koneko (Libra), released in 2020. Writing in the New York City Jazz Record, Tyran Grillo said, “By turns mysterious and whimsical.”
In 1998, Tamura released the first of his unaccompanied trumpet albums, A Song for Jyaki (Leo Lab). He followed it up in 2003 with KoKoKoKe (Polystar/NatSat) and in 2021, he celebrated his 70th birthday with Koki Solo (Libra), which Karl Ackermann in All About Jazz described as “quirky fun in an age of uncertainty.” His latest solo album, Summer Tree, was a multilayered, overdubbed release that featured his piano and percussion work in addition to his trumpet.
In addition to appearing in many of Fujii’s ensembles, Tamura also has worked with collaborative groups. Most recently, he joined Fujii and master French composer-improvisers, trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins, to form the collective quartet Kaze. With five CDs to their credit since 2011, Kaze “redefines listening to music, redefines genres, redefines playing music,” according to Stef Gjissels of Free Jazz Blog.
Tamura’s category-defying abilities make him “unquestionably one of the most adventurous trumpet players on the scene today,” said Marc Chenard in Coda.