JAZZ OR CLASSICAL OR CLASSICALJAZZ? Kaze: Tornado, Natsuki Tamura: Dragon Nat, Satoko Fujii: Gen Himmel

When I was a kid, I was going through the World Book Encyclopedia (remember those?) and came across the section “jazz.” I still remember how they defined it. To paraphrase, it had to have: improvisation, syncopation, “swing” and a connection with the blues. These latest three releases from Libra records seem to veer back and forth between what we would loosely term “avant garde” jazz and “modern” classical. Where do the lines divide?

The quartet Kaze consists of Christian Pruvost and Natsuki Tamura/tp, Satoko Fujii/p and  Peter Orins/dr. The five originals range from audio assaults from the horns that sound like a dieing zera in the Serengetti to percussive and pianisitic permutations that rival a rainstorm on an aluminum roof. The moods can be claustaphobic and intricate or devolve into a full tag team of wrestling. Whew!

Pianist Satoko Fujii goes solo on a dozen originals. On her own, she’s got a graceful and warm touch. Her pieces such as “In The Dusk” have a modern romantic sound to them. Dreamy pieces such as “Summer Solstice”  can get your mind to wander into other thoughts, a good sign. Well constructed  pieces, still with a tad space for improvising, although each tune actually sounds a bit spontaneous.

Natsuki Tamura takes his trumpet out all by its lonesome on his eight originals. He’s got a warm and earthy sound on his horn, with the sounds ranging from clear bebop to emphasemic gasps. At times, it sounds like he’s working through the Maggio and Arban Method books, as the performance gets a bit clinical. Do you really want to listen to a guy go through exercises by himself? Isn’t that what most parents of 5th graders do every day?

Libra Records


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