****RINGER OF THE WEEK****Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra: Bloom

I’ll try not to be sexist about this, but of all the other jazz orchestra leaders, I can’t help but compare Asuka Kakitani to Maria Schneider. OK, they’re both female, but the similarities don’t simply end there. Both approach big band jazz from a composer, arranger and conductor perspective. Both lead larger sized orchestras, and both create an intriguing sound that mixes complex swing, thrilling harmonies and colors and multi-themed pieces that thrill the trio of the heart, head and viscera.

 All of the songs run between 8 and 11 minutes, with creative themes that veer in and out between solos being stated by the thick but muted brass and congenial reeds, as on the prancing “Bloom” and the rich and reflective “Bumblebee Garden.” John Bailey’s trumpet is a highlight on the former, while Matt McDonald’s trombone and Sara Serpa’s voice enrich the latter. Some cirrus clouds of brass coalesce around the pair of Japanese compositions. “Opened Opened” sounds like the delicacy of plum blossoms while “Dragonfly’s Glasses” charges back and forth between excitement and gentleness between Ben Kono’s woodwinds. Amazingly colorful textures and sounds weave in and out of your ears, and the segue of moods is enticing. “Islands in the Stream” rises and falls like ocean waves, and the album closes with a dreamlike “Skip” that foams like the froth of a rootbeer float. Wondrous mix of sounds, rhythms, solo instruments and voices. Look for this one!

Inatnas Music


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