Earlier this year Japanese avant-garde master Satoko Fujii unveiled a new ensemble with Spring Storm, the debut album for her Satoko Fujii New Trio. That didn’t mean she’s forgotten about the second-newest ensemble she’s involved with, though: Kaze is about to issue their second album.
Back in 2010, Fujii and husband/trumpeter Natsuki Tamura formed the Kaze quartet with a couple of guys from France, Christian Pruvost (trumpet) and Peter Orins (drums). The bass-less, trumpet-heavy foursome released an impressive effort the following year, and Rafale is striking in how this unusual configuration was utilized.
Tornado, the new one, is even more eruptive, more unpredictable and more contrasting than the debut. As before, this is music about mood and emotion, not structure or technical features. They rely some on twentieth century classical, free jazz, European folk music and moments of stark, gentle beauty.
On Rafale, Orins made some odd noises with the assistance of electronics. There’s no such assistance this time, but there needn’t be anyway with Tamura and Pruvost making the most peculiar sounds ever to emanate from a trumpet, much less two trumpets at once. The first time comes about 40 seconds into the opener, Tamura’s “Wao,” which begins with rather innocuous chords interrupted by note-less blowing and flatulent sounds. Like a master predator, “Wao” circles its prey in silence and then pounces with the crash of Fujii’s keys. Pruvost and Tamura break out into all out war for a minute, then settle down again. Suddenly, Fujii rains down a blizzard from her piano, signaling another return to action. Weird, electronic kind of whizzes and whirrs occasionally exude from those horns. The pattern of calm followed by calamity repeats itself.
Orins’ “Mecanique” likewise begins peacefully with what figures to be a chamber piece with a repeating figure coming from Fujii. The key aspect of this performance is the smooth, intertwining trumpets, as Orins’ drums are nearly invisible. “Tornado,” by Fujii, is an organic collage, earning its name with Orins signaling the impending arrival of fury with his abstract kit work before Fujii joins and prowls around in the lower registers. Both trumpets enter the fray making unnatural growls and whooshes, approximating the sound of a twister. Finally a trumpet breaks open with a Spanish styled figure, repeated by the other trumpet. The song comes to abrupt stop, then restarts with trumpets making sputtering sounds as Fujii makes some odd noises of her own from her piano, and the epic performance comes to a climatic end when the horns suddenly pick up intensity for one last series of open blasts.
The relatively brief “Imokidesu,” another one penned by Orins, is a pursuit of latent fury that finally gets unwound in an orderly way at the song’s conclusion. Fujii’s twenty minute “Triangle” emerges slowly, and the combined, drawn out notes are remindful of Wayne Shorter’s “Sanctuary.” Fujii leads a change of pace seven minutes in. Soon after another sudden stop, the trumpets enjoin in a chase for notes. Another notable event occurs when Tamura and Pruvost sustain chords while Orins rumbles underneath. Episodic, with an ever-changing harmonic center.
Reaching beyond cultures and nationalities to create something too instinctual to be confined by such things, the Japanese-French connection is as strong as ever on Tornado.
Tornado is slated for release on August 20, via Circum-Libra Records.