Kaze | Tornado | Libra Records

libra records 202

Christian Pruvost …Trumpet | Natsuki Tamura …Trumpet | Satoko Fujii …Piano | Peter Orins …Drums

Recorded October 2 and 3, 2012 by Patrice Kubiak at at Studio Ka, Faches Thumesnil, France and mixed on December, 2012 by Peter Orins. Mastered by Scott Hull at Scott Hull Mastering, New York. Executive producer: Peter Orins. Cover photo: Peter Orins. Design: Masako Tanaka. Band photos: Philippe Lenglet.

Tracklist: 1. Wao [7:50] 2. Mecanique [5:19] 3. Tornado [11:51] 4. Imokidesu [6:16] 5. Triangle [19:53]

Kaze | Tornado | libra records

This is only the second recording

of the KAZE quartet, though the quartet sounds as if these four musicians have been playing and known each other for many years. The quartet members have formed an immediate bond and imaginative communication, in studio, on stage and off stage, but there is more to the picture. Each of them, individually and together as a powerful unit, are gifted storytellers. The five compositions on Tornado tell us enchanting, fascinating and bewildering stories.

The stories that pianist Satoko Fujii, trumpeters Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins wish to tell us are not ones that aim for simple, straight ahead narratives. These complex, multi-layered stories divert into many side alleys, full of weird distractions and exotic, amusing surprises. But these stories manage to keep the tension throughout and seize our imagination.

The five compositions – penned by Tamura, Orins and Fujii, reveal their many secrets after repeated listenings. First these compositions bewitch you with their level of intense and focused energy, the imaginative and commanding musicianship, and, obviously, the infinite musical vocabulary. Then you are tempted to learn more about the raging and dramatic interplay, to understand the extended breathing techniques of Tamura and Pruvost, maybe even attempt to reconstruct a coherent sequence of sonic events. But again and again you find yourself surrendering to these exceptional and arresting musical stories, adopting their unique, intuitive perspectives.

These elaborate compositions-stories succeed to penetrate into our inner souls, to hold our attention and expand our imagination because they are so vivid and true. They tell us something profound about the most honest commitment to art, the responsibility of an artist to communicate her or his art with passion; to move and motivate us with this art and to reconnect us with our often repressed thoughts and desires; asking us to be alive, now, in this moment, to fully enjoy this most inspiring and beautiful music. — Eyal Hareuveni


Cet album n’est que le deuxième

de KAZE, et pourtant il donne l’impression que les quatre musiciens se connaissent et jouent ensemble depuis de nombreuses années. La connexion entre eux a été immédiate, leur manière de communiquer pleine d’imagination, que ce soit en studio, sur scène ou en coulisses, mais il y a bien plus à en dire. Pris individuellement, ou dans l’ensemble que forme Kaze, tous sont de talentueux conteurs d’histoires. Les cinq compositions de Tornado nous relatent des récits tout aussi enchanteurs et fascinants que déroutants.

En effet, les histoires de la pianiste Satoko Fujii, du trompettiste Natsuki Tamura et du batteur Peter Orins ne sont pas de celles qui visent une narration simple ou rectiligne. Ce sont plutôt des histoires composites, à niveaux multiples, qui dévient sur des chemins variés, des histoires pleines de mystérieuses distractions et de surprises exotiques. Des histoires qui entretiennent une certaine tension d’un bout à l’autre et s’emparent de notre imagination.

Les cinq compositions, écrites par Tamura, Orins et Fujii, ne révèlent leurs nombreux secrets qu’apres plusieurs écoutes. Au premier abord, elles vous ensorcèlent par leur énergie intense et concentrée, une maltrise musicale inventive et impérieuse, et un vocabulaire musical infini. Ensuite, arrive la tentation d’en savoir plus sur l’interaction, intense et theâtrale, de comprendre les vastes techniques de souffle de Tamura et Pruvost, peut-être même de chercher à reconstruire une suite logique d’évènements sonores. Pourtant, encore et toujours, on s’abandonne à ces histoires exceptionnelles et captivantes. en adoptant leurs intuitives et uniques perspectives.

Ces compositions élaborées parviennent à pénétrer au plus profond de nos âmes, elles retiennent notre attention et développent notre imagination, car elles sont frappantes de justesse. Elles nous racontent un aspect profond de l’engagement le plus sincere à l’art, la responsabilité qu’a un artiste de communiquer son art avec passion, de nous émouvoir et de nous stimuler, ainsi que de nous reconnecter avec nos pensées et désirs souvent réprimés ; elles nous demandent d’être vivants, là, maintenant, pour apprécier au mieux cette musique superbe et inspirante. — Eyal Hareuveni

Kaze | Tornado | libra records

Brilliant Avant Garde from Kaze

Appreciating brilliant avant garde jazz is a little like sudden enlightenment in the Zen tradition, or maybe being born again. Before it happens to you, say those to whom it has happened, it is very difficult to believe in it. So just sit still, pray, and listen to Cecil Taylor. Sooner or later you will raise the Bodhi mind.

Unfortunately, there is a logical obstacle to plunging in. Just because some brilliant and compelling music is inscrutable on the first few hearings doesn’t mean that all inscrutable music is brilliant. I still think Jackson Pollock was a fraud and that James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake is not only unreadable but is not even a book.

All I can tell us that I love a lot of music now that I once found disturbing or incoherent. I would add to that list some pieces of music that I now find so compelling that I cannot imagine how they were ever opaque. Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto is one. Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch is another.

Tonight I am reviewing I am reviewing an astonishingly strong album that displays all the strengths and makes virtues of the weaknesses of avant garde jazz. Tornado (August 20, 2013) is the second offering by Kaze, a quartet consisting of:

1. Satoko Fujii (piano) 2. Natsuki Tamura (trumpet) 3. Christian Pruvost (trumpet) 4. Peter Orins (drums)

I have a rather restrictive definition of the terms “avant garde” and “free” jazz. The latter refers to the production of music without any advance score or even theme. You just start playing. The former refers to the way that the music is composed. Avant garde jazz cuts music up into some set of constituent parts (themes, moods, etc.) and then rearranges it. The arrangement is guided by the parts rather than any imposed narrative.

Tornado is textbook avant garde and I found it immediately accessible and delicious. It has a lot of the conspicuous instruments of the subgenre. You get horns pretending to be screeching or farting or grinding the edge of a surgeon’s blade, passages that narrow to a single instrument or two pensively weaving a tale and then explode into a circus of sound, a little cookie monster warbling, and the occasional romantic waltz.

The trick is in the weaving. Each turn has to keep you interested and some have to make you want to cry. Our lives are made up of vast array of sounds and stories. Passion rises out of the burdens of flesh. This music works that kind of magic.

Fujii and Tamura are Japanese, I am guessing. Pruvost and Orins are borrowed from the “French improvisers collective” Muzzix. I am not sure what an improvisers collective is, or how many are running around loose, but the pairing of the two cultures pays dividends. We get some Asian bells followed by horn work that could properly introduce a bull fight. We also get, I think, a little spookiness. That impression may be due to the fact that I watched The Conjuring yesterday. If so, it is a testament to the power of this music to draw in elements of my own consciousness.

This music is evidence of the existence of entire jazz worlds that most listeners and even collectors might easily be unaware of. Satoko Fujii is obviously a master and a visit to her website reveals a rich catalog of recordings. That such music can be recorded is evidence that such worlds can be easily visited by wanders who fly about in their internet tardis. Tornado was released by Circum-Libra Records. You can also get solo recordings by Fujii (Gen Himmel) and Tamura (Dragon Mat) on Libra Records. I will review these in short order.

I urge you to seek out and purchase these recordings. This is music worth investing money, time, and heart in. — Ken Blanchard


The Japanese pianist and composer Satoko Fujii

has history in Boston. She lived here for six years before returning to her native Tokyo, earning degrees at Berklee and New England Conservatory. In between songs at the Lily Pad in Cambridge on Monday night, she beamed from her piano, saying how happy she was to be back in her “second home.” As familiar as the experience was for her, this was the first time that she and her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, have brought her quartet Kaze to town, and the first time drummer Peter Orins and trumpeter Christian Pruvost, both young and French, have performed in the States.

Fujii is an artist with a large repertoire and over 60 recordings to her name. She works with lots of groups, ranging from small chamber ensembles to a full-on New York-based big band. Her bass-less quartet Kaze (it means “wind” in Japanese) has a new album called Tornado, but the group’s sound isn’t solely violent and elemental. The four pieces they played during the hour-long set were exercises in stretched time. The music built slowly and deliberately through long ambient stretches, and when the sophisticated melodies showed up, they were dispensed with in a matter of seconds. Fujii’s quartet could go from 0 to 100 at the drop of a hat, but only once in a while, and nearly always at the perfect time.

Kaze showed expertise in the creation of intriguing sound as well as traditional music. The concert began with an expansive 25-minute piece, the first third of which was essentially highly creative noise. Fujii does the now de rigueur fiddling around with the strings inside her instrument very well, creating long, clear droning sounds with one hand, freeing the other to roam the keys freely. With Orins scraping his cymbals and the trumpeters forcing air through their instruments, the quartet sounded like a clamorous soundscape, perfect accompaniment for the buses growling by outside in Inman Square and the steps of latecomers creaking across the Lily Pad’s floor. On Tamura’s explosive composition “Wao,” he and Pruvost dueled alternately on muted trumpets and duck calls. During the piece “Imokidesu,” Orins generated laughs by playing a combination of a Tibetan prayer bowl and a keychain, while Tamura used toy castanets to a surprisingly dramatic effect.

Though the compositions were carefully scripted, all four members of the group were given chances to improvise alone and with each other. Fujii once claimed in an interview that listening to Charlie Parker in college “gave her nightmares.” Her approach self-consciously departs from the bebop/modern jazz tradition. At times, her emphasis on space and delicate touch calls to mind the super subtle approach of her old teacher Paul Bley, but she also made use of rich romantic piano chords, spreading both hands wide, making the instrument sing like a chorus. Although the lines she played were often dissonant and clashing, she somehow was able to give the impression of never playing a wrong note. Unfortunately, during some powerful fortissimo moments the rest of the group overpowered her performance, to the point that she couldn’t be heard.

Tamura and Pruvost, while both brash and free-jazzy, attacked the music from different angles. Tamura pulled off first-rate, outside-the-box playing on the piece “Triangle,” tearing through its blistering chromatic lines while the band drove energetically behind him. His young French counterpart chose to play only a few notes, focusing instead on creating an impressive range of sound effects. Sometimes manipulating a mute with his fingers, sometimes playing with a balloon animal he stuffed into the body of his trumpet, he was chameleonic throughout the evening: he could sound like a synthesizer, a DJ scratching his turntable, and a siren. Still, he didn’t want to be pigeonholed into the sound effect box. Pruvost also played a soulful unaccompanied solo, playing the blues in between gusts of furious cacophony.

Through the use of unorthodox techniques and strangely gripped sticks, Orins came off as a wholly organic drummer, projecting an illusion of naiveté that is deeply prized by the avant-garde. He gave the impression he was playing each of his rhythms for the first time, no matter how technically challenging they happened to be. During the opening piece, he shone in an unaccompanied section. For two minutes, he took a simple rock beat and chopped it to pieces, slowing it down and speeding it up like a warping cassette tape on fast-forward.

The audience at the Lily Pad had very few complaints, except when Fujii announced after only three songs that the group intended to play only one more (“Don’t worry, it’s long!”). The members of Kaze clearly enjoyed each other’s performances, happily laughing with the audience as well as with each other. Pruvost and Orins were cracking up along with the crowd after Tamura pulled out some tiny finger cymbals during an intimate piano solo. Fujii poked fun at Pruvost’s ability to speak not only French, but ‘Goose,’ a reference to the squawking sounds he made on the trumpet. The pianist proudly announced to listeners that Kaze was democratic because they all wrote music and contributed evenly to the group’s sound. And that sound is certainly equalitarian—romantic, cacophonous, intelligent, and thoroughly without pretense. — Steve Mossberg

Steve Mossberg is a composer, jazz pianist, and music educator living in Somerville, MA. He holds an MMEd. From Boston Conservatory and has taught jazz piano at Clark University. In addition to teaching music in the Cambridge Public Schools, he performs regularly with many of Boston’s top musicians.


Thanks to a discrepancy between the listing in my own Boston Globe piece (correct)

a couple of weeks ago and the listing at the Lily Pad Web site (incorrect), I arrived late for the set by the Japanese-French quartet Kaze. Too bad for me, but there’s something to be said for arriving to a performance in media res. In this case, in front of a crowd of 25 or so (the Lily Pad doesn’t hold much more than that), the band was creating near-silence. Trumpeters Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost stood with their instruments at their lips, yet nothing could be heard but the quiet swoosh of blown air. Pianist Satoko Fujii was standing at the keyboard, bent over, her arms extended into the instrument’s strings. One began to hear a soft rubbing sound, then the scrape of drummer Peter Orins’s stick against cymbals. “Wooosh!” went that eerie, airy sound, louder and then quieter as Pruvost,lips pressed to mouthpiece, pivoted his horn from side to side. Fujii plucked some spare harp notes on her strings, and after five minutes or so the trumpeters began to blow fully sounded notes. Then Taumra and Pruvost fell into a sweet, mysterious unison melody of long tones, Fujii accompanying them with spare chords. The flow of the trumpet line slowly fractured, the rhythmic rattles on the drums increased, and we moved out of the quiet world of Morton Feldman minimalism and into a full candence and a stop. Pruvost broke for an a cappella solo — a short, repeated arpeggiated phrase, accelerating and declerrating, ending with a long held tone and a wide, soft vibrato. He played a bluesy phrase before Tamura joined him with soft flutters and Pruvost answered with some hard riffs. There was a break for a drum solo, Orins now leaving his rattles and scrapes behind for additive phrases with snare, sticks on rims, and resonant tom-tom, playing a kind of call-and-response with his bass drum — 1,2! 1,2,3! 1,2,3,4! 1,2,3,4,5! Fujii came in with some sweeping chromatic phrases and then the band found a kind of unison theme and hard 4/4, but not swinging. The long unison trumpet line came back, and the band stopped cold. It had been about 25 minutes since I’d entered the club.

Kaze (pronounced Kah-ZEH, meaning “wind”) takes jazz abstraction to a sublime limit. And it does sound like the process of abstract painting — everything is about balance, the relationship of mark to ground, the shape of lines, with vague reference to a tonal center of fixed time-keeping. The band favors what the Art Ensemble of Chicago used to call “little instruments” — bird calls and rattles, toy noisemakers, temple bells and zen bowls. At one point, Pruvost created a squealing effect by blowing through a black rubber balloon into his mouthpiece, the distended bladder suggesting that he might be about to create a balloon animal. But from this beautifully calibrated randomness will emerge one of those austere unison trumpet lines or a grand, pummeling piano rhapsody. There is suspense, virtuosity, mystery, calm. When Fujii introduced what she said would be the last tune, some in the audience responded with a disappointed sigh. “Don’t worry,” said Fujii, “it’s long!” In fact, only about 10 minutes or so. But longer would have been fine.

All the pieces played at the show are on the band’s new CD, Tornado, on Circum-Libra Records. — John Garelick


KAZE is a dynamic new quartet

that blazes trails while they blaze. It perhaps is what you expect from pianist-composer Satoko Fujii and her trumpeting-composing cohort Natsuki Tamura, but maybe not exactly? Actually this is the second album by KAZE, but they sound so together it could be the tenth. Along with the two are trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins. The four together meld with single-minded creativity.

It’s free-avant music but very much directed by compositional arches. There are five numbers performed on the disk, two by Fujii, two by Orins and one by Tamura. There is something Zen-rock-garden-like in this music, only set on fire at times. Every note has concentrated power and the spaces in between no less so.

The performances are exhilarating. From Orins’ sensitively dynamic drumming, Satoko’s highly supercharged, creative, well-timing piano outbursts to the edge-of-the-sound-and-back trumpeting of Tamura and Pruvost, this is outstanding avant music.

One of the best I’ve heard this year! — Grego Applegate Edwards

Kaze | Tornado | libra records


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2 thoughts on “Kaze | Tornado | Libra Records

  1. With Tornado, pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura may get you shaking your head in wonderment. Firstly, the convergence of metaphors inherent in the album title, the name of the band (kaze means “wind” in Japanese), and the fact it features two trumpeters is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. More heartening is the rapidity with which Kaze, a quartet with trumpeter Christian Pruvost and percussionist Peter Orins, has emerged from the couple’s myriad side projects into a tightly integrated and artistically fecund unit with a distinct sound and purpose. Like Fujii’s late, lamented quartet Ma-Do, Kaze is comprised of little- known musicians with unique capabilities. Pruvost and Orins are part of the Lille (France)-based arts collective Muzzix, a partnership of experimental musicians of all stripes—jazz, rock, and classical—who collaborate on each others’ projects and assist one other with concert and recording production.

    It’s almost fitting, then, that Orins is at the forefront of a growing trend away from the race-around-the-kit style of free-jazz traps bashing. If anything, his comparatively economical playing is more informed by the work of contemporary art-rock drummers such as Greg Saunier. Orins’ role in the group is similar to Fujii’s; as an organizational and orchestral force. The pairing of veteran Tamura with the up-and-coming Pruvost is a joy to behold. Both are blessed with jaw-dropping technical abilities, as well as a seemingly endless desire to experiment and take musical risks. The risk factor comes into play quite frequently throughout Tornado. Simply put, this album is an avant-garde trumpet fan’s dream-come-true. Both Tamura and Pruvost control an endless array of extended techniques, and the sounds they can command at any given moment are as breathtaking as they are confounding. Yet some of the most profound and spine-tingling moments on Tornado come when both trumpeters are playing very simply and conventionally, as during the opening sections of “Tamura’s “Wao” and Fujii’s almost 20 minute-long opus “Triangle.”

    There’s a lot going on in each one of Tornado’s five tracks. Orins’ two contributions “Mechanique” and “Imokidesu” actually stand quite apart from the rest of the album. The former features subdued intertwining trumpet lines, almost in a Lee Konitz / Warne Marsh style, over minimal percussion and piano. The latter starts off similarly but with Fujii’s forlorn, almost doom-laden, piano chords forming the framework of a piano-drums dialogue that builds to a furious climax topped by a militaristic trumpet melody. The trumpet duet that highlights Tamura’s “Wao” covers a startlingly vast swath of stylistic ground—everything from lovely harmonies to flatulent blats and alien bird-like sounds—before launching into an absolutely crushing group improvisation. Fujii’s two pieces make up the bulk of Tornado. The title track unfolds like an old fable, inexorably progressing from a pastoral scene towards the whirling chaos of its namesake. In the middle, a trademark Fujii melody in 5/4 time that opens the door for yet another trumpet dialogue—this time supported by Fujii’s masterful prepared piano. “Triangle” is truly epic in scope. A multi-sectioned piece, it goes pretty much everywhere; breaking the quartet down into a series of trios, duos and solo while accomplishing Fujii’s over-arching compositional imperatives.

    Coming on the heels of Ma-Do’s Time Stands Still (Not Two Records, 2013), a thoroughly amazing and defining artistic statement if there ever was one, Tornado stands as further evidence that Fujii and Tamura are unparalleled as players, composers and musical conceptualists. By continually inviting new musicians into their inner circle, they only strengthen their own capabilities.

  2. Kaze, one of pianist Satoko Fujii’s many groups, offers up its sophomore effort with Tornado. A quartet lineup of piano, two trumpets and drums, it’s sound is as idiosyncratically original and no-hold-barred as it comes. The trumpets often sound like trumpets—brassy one minute then whispery the next. The two trumpets spit hard, rapid-fire notes and long sinuous lines all in a conventional mainstream fashion that suddenly gives way to creating sound waves that don’t fit into any musical genre on Earth: squabbling crows drunk on a feast of fermented fruit; Elmer Fudd after a deep hit of helium; fluttery bovine flatulence; short-circuiting electronics sizzling behind the drywall; and piercing screams that slap off the side of your head.

    But that’s Kaze at its most avant-garde, which make up for about one-half of its sound, out-there interludes sandwiched between sections of restrained mainstream beauty.

    “Wao,” penned by one-half of the trumpet front line, Natsuki Tamura (who is also joined by French trumpeter Christian Pruvost), opens with restrained two-horn harmony and a straight-ahead subdued intro, with small injections of extended techniques before the band explodes. Fuji’s piano sounds like shattering glass, while drummer Peter Orins pounds into a bombardment. It’s like a soundtrack to a video of someone driving a truck through a 7- Eleven. From there, the horns send out a blistering assault in front of the tumult caused by the rhythm section until all is quiet besides a chattering (trumpet) bird.

    Like all the songs on Tornado, “Wao” slips in and out of solo, duo, trio and quartet interludes. Fuji and drummer Orins are compatibly combustible during Tamura and Pruvust’s exploration of outer space.

    “Mechanique,” written by Orins, begins in a mainstream mode, an off-center but pretty ensemble groove that leads into somber trumpet meditations with spare piano comping.

    The 12-minute title track gives credence to the description of Satoko Fujii as a force of nature. The storm slowly builds as inexorable movements of weather fronts moving toward a meeting. A wind chime rings to life, a dry leaf skitters along a sidewalk, and the trumpets play a forlorn duet. Then the vortex forms and winds howl before the storm passes on.

    The 20-minute Fujii original, “Triangle,” closes the set. It’s a tune that unfolds in a measured fashion, a labyrinthine story with themes and sub-themes, quirky characters, sudden bursts of madcap action, and segments of surreal cartoon lunacy that as a whole makes perfect sense.

    That’s the art of Satoko Fujii and Kaze.

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