Kaze [featuring Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura] – Tornado (2013)

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A stimulating, compelling, amusing record, Kaze’s Tornado once again establishes this group of musicians as among the most fascinating in jazz. Pianist Satoko Fujii, drummer Peter Orins and trumpeters Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost experiment and provoke throughout the disc with blasts of noise and conversation.

For Fujii, her stated goal of making “music that no one has heard before” is certainly well on its way. She is among the most compelling figures in jazz and improvised music, with groups like ma-do and the Min-Yoh Ensemble leading the charge. That to say nothing of her large jazz ensemble compositions, which essentially set the bar for colorful and brilliant music. When grouped with Tamura and the two members of France’s Muzzix collective, Fujii’s creative flow becomes more balanced. She shares compositional duties with Orins and Tamura, exploring the contours of a small(er) group dynamic while still maintaining a sense of broad scale.

The results are captivating from the start, with Tamura’s “Wao” leading off. Here, the listener is lured into a false sense of melodic security with Tamura and Pruvost playing together in deceptively uniform fashion. But in the fashion of pranksters, the smooth lines are broken apart by splutters and frisky ruptures. Fujii and Orins smash in at once.

The way Tamura and Pruvost are able to converse with their trumpets is not of this world. With “Triangle,” the banter continues in mystifying language. At first, they play as though burbling down a long hall. The skittering sounds are bolstered later by a more melodic core, but the haunting scale Kaze reveals remains.

Orins and Fujii take to the former’s “Imokidesu” with similarly loquacious vigor. The colors are painted with lavish tabs of sound from Tamura and Pruvost, with ivory accents steadily refining the texture. Shortly after the halfway point, the floodgates open to discharge an off-kilter jam between pianist and drummer.

These erratic channels of magnificence and eccentricity course through Tornado and sculpt a spirit of adventurousness into the rock. This is invigorating music, a palette of sound that can’t be plotted with ease. There’s no forecasting the angles of Kaze’s striking racket, so the only practical plan is to sit back and enjoy the beautiful chaos.

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