The pioneering musician Ikue Mori on laptop electronics joins Kaze – the cooperative quartet featuring Japanese composer-pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura plus French trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer– for their innovative new album Crustal Movement, out March 17, 2023 via Circum/Libra. Album is a visceral, richly textured hybrid of pre-recorded music files exchanged during pandemic and live performance
“[Their music is] a well-judged amalgam of adventurous and empathetic ensemble playing, and striking individual flights,”—John Sharpe, All About Jazz
“So intriguing that you’ll listen to it as music, not noise, and you’ll start to think about the relationship between music and sound and then . . . you’ll be hooked–just as I am.”—Marc Phillips, The Vinyl Anachronist
On Crustal Movement , the pioneering musician Ikue Mori on laptop electronics joins Kaze – the cooperative quartet featuring Japanese composer-pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamuraplus French trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins – to move in new directions as they explore innovative ways of making music. On their first album together since 2020’s incendiary Sand Storm, these five sonic explorers weave together pre-recorded music files and live performance. The results are as exciting, interactive, and detailed as if they had recorded entirely live.
In the usual collective spirit of the group, each member contributes compositions for the recording. Knowing that this would be a largely remote effort, they each planned out pieces that were more like written outlines than musical scores. “We all composed a structure and made a blueprint,” Fujii said. “In most cases we made a chart on paper, not on music paper. The blueprints have time durations and instrumentation and some instructions like ‘play fast’ or ‘play quietly.’”
Fujii, Tamura, and Mori then proceeded to follow the compositional guidelines and send music files of their performances back and forth around the world via the Internet. Pruvost and Orins then added a new twist to the file-exchange procedure. “Instead of adding individually to the sound files, they did a very interesting thing,” Fujii said. “They played along with our files at a concert in Lille and recorded it. Ikue, Natsuki and I were not in the concert, but our recordings were. We try many different ways to make music!”
The combination of live and pre-recorded interactions, guided by compositions designed to accommodate the remotely situated players, results in uncommonly fluid and naturally developing music that belies the circumstances under which it was made. For instance, the Pruvost and Orins composition “Masoandro Mitsoka” guides the quintet from a quiet introduction into a kaleidoscopic group improvisation with acoustic and electronic colors swirling around a dialog between the trumpets. Ikue Mori’s “Motion Dynamics” sets up complex ensemble give-and-take that continuously changes the shape and flow of the piece. Fujii’s “Crustal Movement” establishes an irregular rhythm that pushes and pulls the group along a zig-zag path into a roiling mass that throws off sparks of color. Tamura’s “Rolle Cake” is a subtle tone poem that glides easily through subdued, almost lyrical passages and rumbling, anxious moments. The detail in the group interactions, the organic development of each piece, and the lovely flashes of surprise and discovery are exceptional throughout.
“The music may be quieter than when Kaze plays live,” Fujii noted. “We have a tendency to heat up so much and so easily when we’re on stage together. That’s harder to do when we’re remote, but we can still be exploring and intense.”
photo © Eckhart Derschmidt
For more than 25 years and over 100 albums as a leader, she has created a unique, personal music that spans many genres, blending jazz, contemporary classical, rock, and traditional Japanese music into an innovative synthesis instantly recognizable as hers alone. A prolific composer for ensembles of all sizes and a performer who has appeared around the world, she was the recipient of a 2020 Instant Award in Improvised Music, in recognition of her “artistic intelligence, independence, and integrity.”
Japanese trumpeter and composer Natsuki Tamura is internationally recognized for a unique musical vocabulary that blends jazz lyricism with extended techniques. This unpredictable virtuoso has led bands with radically different approaches throughout his career. He’s played avant-rock jazz fusion with the Natsuki Tamura Quartet, First Meeting, and Junk Box. Since 2005, he has focused on the intersection of European folk music and sound abstraction with Gato Libre. He also has recorded four albums of solo trumpet. A member of many of Fujii’s ensembles, ranging from orchestra to trios and quartets, he has also recorded eight duet CDs with her. Last year he released a half-dozen digital albums, including a composition for brass quintet. Tamura’s category-defying abilities make him “unquestionably one of the most adventurous trumpet players on the scene today,” said Marc Chenard in Coda.