The Squid's Ear Magazine

Mori, Ikue

Tracing The Magic

Mori, Ikue: Tracing The Magic (Tzadik)

A large work from Downtown New York improviser and innovator Ikue Mori, seven piece dedicated to women artists whose vision found them creating into their 80's & 90s, performed in an ensemble with Sylvie Courvoisier, Ned Rothenberg, Zeena Parkins, Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, Erik Friedlander, David Watson, Makigami Koichi, Charmaine Lee & Sae Hashimoto.
 

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Personnel:



Ikue Mori-electronics

Sylvie Courvoisier-prepared piano

Erik Friedlander-cello

Satoko Fujii-piano

Koichi Makigami-vocals

Zeena Parkins-electric harp, acoustic harp

Ned Rothenberg-saxophone, Shakuhachi, clarinet, bass clarinet

David Watson-bagpipe

Sae Hashimoto-percussion

Charmaine Lee-vocals, electronics

Natsuki Tamura-trumpet


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UPC: 702397404026

Label: Tzadik
Catalog ID: CD-TZA-4040
Squidco Product Code: 32039

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded at Electric Komachi studio, in New York City, Summer 2021 to February, 2022.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Tracing The Magic is Ikue Mori's most varied and fabulous CD to date and it is an absolute masterpiece! Seven pieces, each inspired by (and dedicated to) women artists whose powerful vision and creativity drove them to continue creating well into their '80s and '90s: Joan Jonas, Louise Bourgeois, Agnes Martin, Judit Reigl, Leonora Carrington, Jakucho Sekuchi, and Toko Shinoda. The ensemble lineups feature some of the most exciting musicians working today and include friends new (Charmane Lee, Sae Hashimoto) and old (Sylvie Courvoisier, Makigami Koichi, Erik Friedlander, Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, Zeena Parkins, Ned Rothenberg, David Watson). Moody, lyrical, textural, and evocative, the music is driven by Ikue's unique electronics and showcases her brilliant ear for orchestration, melody, and texture."-Tzadik



Review of the Roulette Premiere of Tracing the Magic by Vanessa Ague of I Care If You Listen:

"A drum set, a few woodwind instruments, a piano, a couple of bagpipes, and electronics waited onstage at Roulette on the evening of May 24, 2022. Audience members filtered in and out of the ground floor and balcony, clustering in small groups of friends and fanning out across the hall. Friendly chatter and laughs rang out across the room long before and after any music did. Eventually, the lights dimmed and electronic musician Ikue Mori, woodwind player Ned Rothenberg, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, bagpipe player David Watson, vocalist Charmaine Lee, and percussionist Sae Hashimoto took the stage, storming through boisterous solos and ominous quietude for about an hour.

They were playing Tracing the Magic, a new suite by Mori that will be released as an album in June on John Zorn's Tzadik label. Throughout her storied career, Mori has worked across musical genres: In her early days, she was a founding member of no-wave band DNA, and since then, she's experimented with drum machine improvisation and electronic composition. As a composer, she's often worked with labyrinthine textures, and Tracing the Magic continues along this path, taking inspiration from women artists like painter Agnes Martin and ink painting and print artist Toko Shinoda to create entwined musical lines. At the live performance, bold solos and ever-evolving textures grew into waves of lush sound, creating a maze of entangled melodies.

At the concert's understated beginning, static emanated from Mori's laptop and each instrument flitted in and out: A vocal murmur fluttered here, a piano tapped there, creating a stretch of sporadic thrums. The ensemble's melodies gradually swelled into longer phrases that overlapped and merged, forming a web of different textures. Rothenberg's tenuous clarinet paired with Courvoisier's reverberant piano and Hasimoto's crisp triangle to created a winding, haunted counterpoint that became increasingly frenzied and then fizzled away.

Most of the pieces followed this general pattern: Electronics entered with hushed sizzles as other instruments appeared. It took some time to warm up to this structure, though. At first, the music felt scattered, collecting up energy but never quite reaching a tipping point. Each instrument seemed as if it existed in its own world. The second movement, for example, felt disconnected: Prickly electronics attempted to mesh with a plodding piano and shakuhachi melody. Every layer felt mesmerizing on its own, but together, they didn't cohere. Each line moved in parallel and never intersected.

But after those first couple of movements, the concert quickly became captivating. At its pinnacle, a full-bodied drone created by a squealing bagpipe and exuberant bass clarinet filled the room with transfixing sound. Then, a pulsing melody played by piano and drums slashed the drone off to form a chugging beat. As the charismatic groove blossomed, the sound that had been building up for so long finally exploded, and despite contrasting textures, each instrument felt interconnected. Courvoisier's piano rumbled in one corner, venturing between traditionally played notes and extended techniques, such as string plucking, while Lee's crisp, electronically distorted vocals cut through the fold in and Watson's piercing bagpipe blared above them all. The audience couldn't help but burst into applause once the movement ended, and a few cheers flickered throughout the room, too. The music engrossed us until the very end; its wild ups and downs sucking us in.

Mori's vision was its most invigorating in those moments of deep connection. They drove the piece to its spellbinding, soft end, which was a drastic change from the thunderous climax, made of swishing percussion and distant, roiling piano that eerily faded away. But the moment was just as alive - every musician was in-sync as they gradually decrescendoed. These drastic moments showcased Mori's penchant for exploring shapeshifting sound, with particular respect to her interest in how texture can drive musical changes. In fact, Tracing the Magic thrived in moments of organized chaos that spotlighted the ways each instrument could mesh or contrast with the others. And as sound fractured and splintered into a hundred different directions, bouncing against every corner of the room with fervor, it returned a little more united than before."


Get additional information at I Care If You Listen

Artist Biographies

"Ikue Mori moved from her native city of Tokyo to New York in 1977. She started playing drums and soon formed the seminal NO WAVE band DNA, with fellow noise pioneers Arto Lindsay and Tim Wright. DNA enjoyed legendary cult status, while creating a new brand of radical rhythms and dissonant sounds; forever altering the face of rock music.

In the mid 80's Ikue started in employ drum machines in the unlikely context of improvised music. While limited to the standard technology provided by the drum machine, she has never the less forged her own highly sensitive signature style. Through out in 90's She has subsequently collaborated with numerous improvisors throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, while continuing to produce and record her own music. 1998, She was invited to perform with Ensemble Modern as the soloist along with Zeena Parkins, and composer Fred Frith, also "One hundred Aspects of the Moon" commissioned by Roulette/Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. Ikue won the Distinctive Award for Prix Ars Electronics Digital Music category in 99.

In 2000 Ikue started using the laptop computer to expand on her already signature sound, thus broadening her scope of musical expression. 2000 commissioned by the KITCHEN ensemble, wrote and premired the piece "Aphorism" also awarded Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship. 2003 commissioned by RELACHE Ensemble to write a piece for film In the Street and premired in Philadelphia. Started working with visual played by the music since 2004. In 2005 Awarded Alphert/Ucross Residency.

Ikue received a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2006. In 2007 the Tate Modern commissioned Ikue to create a live sound track for screenings of Maya Deren's silent films. In 2008 Ikue celebrated her 30th year in NY and performed at the Japan Society. Recent commissioners include the Montalvo Arts Center and SWR German radio program and Shajah Art foundation in UAE. Current working groups include MEPHISTA with Sylvie Courvoisier and Susie Ibarra, PHANTOM ORCHARD with Zeena Parkins, project with Koichi Makigami and various ensembles of John Zorn. New duo Twindrums project with YoshimiO  workshop/lecture in various schools include University of Gothenburg, Dartmouth Collage, New England Conservatory, Mills Collage, Stanford University, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago"

-Ikue Mori Website (http://www.ikuemori.com/bio.html)
2/26/2024

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"Sylvie Courvoisier is a pianist, composer and improviser. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Courvoisier moved to New York in 1998 and has lived in Brooklyn since that time.

Courvoisier has led several groups over the years and has recorded over 25 records as a leader or co-leader for different labels, notably ECM , Tzadik and Intakt Records and 30 cds as a sideperson. She has performed and recorded with John Zorn, Mark Feldman, Yusef Lateef, Ikue Mori, Tony Oxley, Tim Berne, Joey Baron, Joëlle Léandre, Herb Robertson, Butch Morris, Evan Parker, Mark Dresser, Ellery Eskelin, Lotte Anker, Fred Frith, Michel Godard, Tomazs Stanko among others. She has been commissioned to write music for concerts, radio, dance and theater. Since 1996, she has been touring widely with her own groups and as a side person in USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe.

Currently, Courvoisier is the leader of her TRIO with Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress. She performs regularly Solo and since 1997, in Duo with violinist Mark Feldman. She co-leads the Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman Quartet with Scott Colley and Billy Mintz. Since 2000, she has been a member of Mephista, an improvising collective trio with Ikue Mori and Susie Ibarra. She is currently playing and touring in different projects of John Zorn including Cobra and Masada Marathon. She is also playing in Erik Friedlander's Trio, Herb Robertson's Quintet and Nate Wooley's Quartet. Since 2010, she has been working as a pianist and composer for flamenco dancer Israel Galvan's project "la Curva" with more than 150 performances around the world.

Awards include Switzerland's 1996 Prix des jeunes créateurs; Zonta Club's 2000 Prix de la Création; Switzerland's 2010 Grand Prix de la Fondation Vaudoise de la Culture; 2013's NYFA (NewYork Foundation For the Art) Music/Sound Fellowship."

-Sylvie Courvoisier Website (http://www.sylviecourvoisier.com/bio.htm)
2/26/2024

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"Cellist Erik Friedlander started studying music at an early age, beginning at 5 with guitar, and then at 8, cello lessons. He grew up in a house filled with music, as his father, an avid music lover, made countless mixtapes which played daily in their home. Erik spent his twenties honing his skills as a player and an improviser and quickly became a sought after studio musician, performing on the Downtown music scene and with artists as diverse as The Mountain Goats, John Zorn, Dave Douglas and Courtney Love. Erik's desire to actively participate in the swirl of music styles he was surrounded by led him to find new ways to play the cello and drives his solo work which is varied and unusual."

-Erik Friedlander Website (http://www.erikfriedlander.com/about/)
2/26/2024

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"Born on October 9, 1958 in Tokyo, Japan, Fujii began playing piano at four and received classical training until twenty, when she turned to jazz. From 1985-87, she studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music, where her teachers included Herb Pomeroy and Bill Pierce. She returned to Japan for six years before returning to the US to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where her teachers included George Russell, Cecil McBee, and Paul Bley, who appeared on her debut CD Something About Water (Libra, 1996).

Since then Fujii has been an innovative bandleader and soloist, a tireless seeker of new sounds, and a prolific recording artist in ensembles ranging from duos to big bands. She has showcased her astonishing range and ability approximately 80 CDs as leader or co-leader. With each new recording or new band, she explores new aspects of her art.

Regular collaborations include her New York trio with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black, augmented by trumpeter/husband Natsuki Tamura to form the Satoki Fujii Four; her duo with Tamura; the Satoko Fujii Quartet featuring Tatsuya Yoshida of the Japanese avant-rock duo, The Ruins; Orchestra New York, which boasts the cream of New York's contemporary avant garde improvisers, including saxophonists Ellery Eskelin and Tony Malaby, trumpeters Herb Roberton and Steven Bernstein, and trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, among others; Orchestra Tokyo, drawing on that city's best improvisers; Orchestra Nagoya; Orchestra Kobe; the co-operative trio Junk Box with Tamura and percussionist John Hollenbeck; ma-do, a quartet including Tamura on trumpet, bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu, and Akira Horikoshi; the Min-Yoh Ensemble with Tamura, trombonist Hasselbring, and accordionist Andrea Parkins; the Satoko Fujii New Trio, featuring bassist Todd Nicholson and drummer Takashi Itani― plus countless engagements and collaborations with some of the world's most important improvisers."

-Satoko Fujii Website (http://www.satokofujii.com/bio.html)
2/26/2024

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"Koichi Makigami is leader, vocalist, thereminist, cornet and Shakuhachi player for rock band HIKASHU, known for his virtuosic vocal range and expression as well as his unique incorporation of elements of theatre, performance, and entertainment, all of which make this Japanese band so widely acclaimed both critically and popularly. He is also active as voice improvisation artist and solo performer. In addition to recordings with HIKASHU, Makigami released a solo album in 1992 of re-worked, reinterpreted old Japanese popular songs, produced by John Zorn. Together with this recorded work, he has conducted a series of concerts under this project.

From 1993, Makigami has been acting as organizer and prompter for the monthly Tokyo session of John Zorn's game piece COBRA.

He formed Japan Tuva Khoomei Association in 1998. invited many Tuvan singers. Huun Huur Tu, Kongar-ool Ondar, Mongun-ool Ondar, NadezhdaKuular, Stanislav iliri, Andrei Mongush, Tyva Kyzy and more.

Makigami has worked and collaborated with a great many artists and musicians in a wide variety of areas and styles, such as Takahashi Yuji, John Zorn, Meredith Monk, David Moss, Ikue Mori, Phil Minton, Lauren Newton, Jaap Blonk, Carl Stone, Jon Rose, Guy Klucevsek, Derek Bailey, John Talor, Jim O'Rouke, Thomas Stronen and more.

Ongoing projects include his aforementioned unique avant-pop based on old popular Japanese music, performance using interactive computer technology, voice improvisation, and various work as organiser and producer."

-Koichi Makigami Website (https://koichimakigami.tumblr.com/post/138772642119/profile)
2/26/2024

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"Multi-instrumentalist/composer/improviser, Zeena Parkins, pioneer of contemporary harp practice and performance, reimagines the instrument as a "sound machine of limitless capacity." Parkins has built three versions of her one-of-a-kind electric harp and has extended the language of the acoustic harp with the inventive use of unusual playing techniques, preparations, and layers of electronic processing.

Inspired and connected to visual arts, dance, film, and history, Zeena follows a unique path in creating her compositional works. Through blending and morphing of both real and imagined instruments, crafting, recombining, and layering mangled, sliced, massaged or possibly disengaged sounds, drawing from extra-musical sources for unusual scoring and formal constructions as well as utilizing multi-speaker environments, Zeena remains in process with sound as material and music, engaged in translations of sonic states in the concert hall, the black box theater, the dance studio, the recording studio, the classroom, the cinema, the skyscraper, the ocean and the gallery. Zeena has a particularly strong commitment to making scores for dance and continues to re-evaluate the nature and issues of the body's imprint on sound and sound/music's imprint on movement.

Parkins's compositions have been commissioned by NeXtWorks Ensemble, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Roulette Intermedium, The Eclipse Quartet, William Winant, Bang on a Can, The Whitney Museum, The Tate Modern, Montalvo Arts Center, The Donaueschinger Musiktage and Sudwestrundfunk/SWR.

Parkins has released four solo records featuring her electric and acoustic harp playing and has released her compositions and band projects on six Tzadik recordings, with a new Tzadik CD with Ikue Mori and Phantom Orchard Orchestra, Trouble in Paradise, to be released in November 2012. As a sought-after collaborator Zeena has worked with: Fred Frith, Björk, Ikue Mori, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Maja Ratkje, Hild Sofie Tafjord, John Zorn, Butch Morris, Chris Cutler, Elliott Sharp, Nels Cline, Alex Cline, William Winant, Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Christian Marclay, Matmos, Yasunao Tone, So Percussion, Bobby Previte, Carla Kilhstedt, Tin Hat, James Fei, Kim Gordon, Lee Renaldo and Thurston Moore.

Awards: The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Fellowship, NYFA Music Fellowship, Meet the Composer Commission, NYSCA Composer Commission, Multi-Arts Production Fund Grant, American Music Center, BAFTA award for best interactive media with visual artist Mandy McIntosh and sound artist Kaffe Matthews, Peter S. Reed Fellowship, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust Commissions, Arts International, Prix Ars Electronica Honorary Mention for Phantom Orchard in the Digital Music category.

Curatorial: Guest curator for The Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria, co-curator of the Movement Research Festival: Sidewinder, in NYC and curator for a month + a week of shows at The Stone in NYC

Residencies: Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, Oxford University, Harvestworks, Steim, Paf: Performing Arts Forum, Wooda Arts Residency, Montalvo Arts Center, RPI/iEAR and The Watermill Center.

Teaching: Zeena has given lectures at Oxford and Princeton Universities and has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Bard and Mills College. Currently, Zeena is a Distinguished Visiting Professor, at Mills College Graduate Music Department."

-Zeena Parkins Website (http://www.zeenaparkins.com/about.html)
2/26/2024

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"Composer/Performer Ned Rothenberg has been internationally acclaimed for both his solo and ensemble music, presented for the past 33 years on 5 continents. He performs primarily on alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, and the shakuhachi - an endblown Japanese bamboo flute. His solo work utilizes an expanded palette of sonic language, creating a kind of personal idiom all its own. In an ensemble setting, he leads the trio Sync, with Jerome Harris, guitars and Samir Chatterjee, tabla, works with the Mivos string quartet playing his Quintet for Clarinet and Strings and collaborates around the world with fellow improvisors. Recent recordings include this Quintet, The World of Odd Harmonics, Ryu Nashi (new music for shakuhachi), and Inner Diaspora, all on John Zorn's Tzadik label, as well as Live at Roulette with Evan Parker, and The Fell Clutch, on Rothenberg's Animul label."

-Ned Rothenberg Website (http://www.nedrothenberg.com/short&extended_biography.html)
2/26/2024

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"David Watson (born 1960) is a musician originally from New Zealand. Watson has lived and worked in New York City since 1987. Originally known as a guitarist, since 1991 Watson's work has also featured new music for the Highland Bagpipes.

Before moving to New York, while in New Zealand in the 1980s, Watson co-founded Braille Records to document the local experimental music scene. He organized national improvisation festivals (Off the Deep End, in 1984 and 1985) and in 2001 started the Artspace/alt.music festival to present new experimental music in Auckland.

Watson's work includes regular performances with MacArthur Award winner John Zorn; ongoing recording projects with Lee Ranaldo and Christian Marclay; a premier performance of a Robert Ashley work in New York; performances in Europe with rock-minimalism pioneer Rhys Chatham ; recording project with downtown drum legend Jonathan Kane; performances with Zeena Parkins at Brooklyn Academy of Music and a score for Jeremy Nelson Dance.

Watson released his disc Throats - with vocalists Makigami Koichi and Shelley Hirsch - on Ecstatic Peace; and a double CD Fingering an Idea, on Phill Niblock's XI Records to critical acclaim. Together with Tony Buck and Ranaldo he formed the band Glacial. In 2010 Ranaldo released the solo album Maelstrom From Drift on Three Lobed Recordings with guest appearances of Tony Buck and David Watson. The band released On Jones Beach In 2012."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Watson_(musician))
2/26/2024

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"A native of Osaka, Japan, Sae Hashimoto is a 24 year old percussionist based in New York City. She is high in demand as a freelance orchestral musician, serving as principal timpanist of New Jersey-based Symphony in C, and subbing with groups such as the New York Philharmonic. She is also a passionate advocate for contemporary music. While she was studying at Juilliard, she eagerly performed in contemporary music ensembles such as New Juilliard Ensemble and AXIOM, where she had a chance to meet John Zorn. In April of 2017, she gave the private premiere of two of Zorn's newest works for solo vibraphone and improvised rhythm section, alongside MacArthur fellow Tyshawn Sorey and bassist Shanir Blumenkranz. Active in the classical percussion field and a rising figure in the jazz scene, Sae is a unique performer bridging the gap between classical and jazz music."

-Sae Hashimoto 2/26/2024

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"Charmaine Lee is an improvising vocalist from Sydney, Australia. Her work favors a uniquely personal approach to vocal expression, concerned with spontaneity, playfulness, and risk-taking. She has performed with leading improvisers Joe Morris and Nate Wooley, and maintains ongoing collaborations with contemporaries Lester St. Louis and Zach Rowden. She currently resides in New York."

-New Music World (http://newmusicworld.org/event/charmaine-lee-ceremony-with-conrad-tao-duo-with-nate-wooley/)
2/26/2024

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"Japanese trumpeter and composer Natsuki Tamura is internationally recognized for a unique musical vocabulary that blends extended techniques with jazz lyricism. This unpredictable virtuoso's seemingly limitless creativity led François Couture in All Music Guide to declare that "... we can officially say there are two Natsuki Tamuras: The one playing angular jazz-rock or ferocious free improv... and the one writing simple melodies of stunning beauty... How the two of them live in the same body and breathe through the same trumpet might remain a mystery."

Born on July 26, 1951, in Otsu, Shiga, Japan, Tamura first picked up the trumpet while performing in his junior high brass band. He began his professional music career after he graduated from high school, playing in numerous bands including the World Sharps Orchestra, Consolation, Skyliners Orchestra, New Herd Orchestra, Music Magic Orchestra, and the Satoko Fujii Ensemble, as well as in his own ensemble. He was the trumpeter for numerous national television shows in Japan from 1973-1982, including The Best Ten, Music Fair, Kirameku Rhythm and many others.

In 1986, he came to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music. He then returned to his native Japan to perform and teach at the Yamaha Popular Music School and at private trumpet studios in Tokyo and Saitama, before coming back to the US to study at New England Conservatory. He made his debut recording as a leader in 1992 on Tobifudo.

In 1997 he released the duo album How Many? with pianist Satoko Fujii, who is also his wife. It marked the beginning of an artistic collaboration that continues up to the present. The duo has made a total of five CDs over the years, including 2012's Muku. "Muku contains some truly stunning, spine-tingling music...its sheer beauty and elegance is what lingers most," wrote Dave Wayne in All About Jazz. "Fujii's orchestral technique, clear chromatic lines and "prepared piano" devices contrast effectively with Tamura's arsenal of extended techniques which he executes with a warm, vocalized tone throughout the trumpet's full range," Ted Panken said in his four-star DownBeat review. Tamura's collaborations with Fujii reveal an intense musical empathy, and have garnered wide popular and critical acclaim. Jim Santella in All About Jazz described their synergy well in his glowing review of the couple's 2006 Not Two disc, In Krakow, In November: "... the creative couple forcefully demonstrates what can happen when you let your musical ideas run free... Similarly, Tamura's mournful trumpet can fly high or low in search of his next surprise. Oftentimes, they both issue plaintive moans that sing like angels on high." Their sixth duet album is due out in 2017.

In 1998, Tamura began recording his unaccompanied solo performances. The stunning solo trumpet debut release, A Song for Jyaki earned a Writers Choice 1998 in Coda magazine, and Andy Bartlett wrote in Coda, "A fabulous set of hiccuping leaps, drones and post-bop trumpet hi-jinx. Tamura goes from growling lows to fluid, free solo runs and echoes not only Don Cherry's slurring anti-virtuosic chops but also Kenny Wheeler's piercing highwire fullness." He followed it up in 2003 with KoKoKoKe, which Jon Davis described in Exposé as "Buddhist chants from an alien planet." Grego Applegate Edwards explains that on Tamura's most recent solo album, 2013's Dragon Nat, "he pares down to focus on simple unwinding melodic material, the sound of his trumpet as a sensuous thing, a periodicity. Taken as a whole it is a kind of environmental tone poem for the moment Natsuki is in now."

2003 was a breakout year for Tamura as a bandleader, with the release of Hada Hada, featuring his free jazz-avant rock quartet with Fujii on synthesizer. Peter Marsh of the BBC had this to say about the high voltage CD: "Imagine Don Cherry woke up one morning, found he'd joined an avant goth-rock band and was booked to score an Italian horror movie. It might be an unlikely scenario, but it goes some way to describing this magnificent sprawl of a record." The quartet's 2004 Quartet release Exit was deemed "...a brilliantly executed set with a neon glow," by Dan McClenaghan in All About Jazz.

In 2005, Tamura made a 180-degree turn in his music with the debut of his all acoustic Gato Libre quartet. Focusing on the intersection of European folk music and sound abstraction, the quartet featured Fujii on accordion, Kazuhiko Tsumura on guitar, and Norikatsu Koreyasu on bass. The quartet's poetic, quietly surreal performances have been praised for their "surprisingly soft and lyrical beauty that at times borders on flat-out impressionism," by Rick Anderson in CD Hotlist. Dan McClenaghan in All About Jazz described their fourth CD, Shiro, as "intimate, something true to the simple beauty of the folk tradition...Tamura's career has largely been about dissolving musical boundaries. With Gato Libre and Shiro, the trumpeter extends his reach even deeper into the prettiest, most accessible of his endeavors." After the unexpected passing of Norikatsu in 2012, Tamura added trombonist Yasuko Kaneko to the group. The new configuration has toured Europe and Japan and released its debut recording, DuDu, in 2014. "DuDu follows the winning formula of its predecessors but, as with the other discs, eschews the formulaic. The result is another sublimely satisfying, elegant record that brims with raw excitement and a reflective nostalgia," writes Hrayr Attarian in All About Jazz. With the tragic death of guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura, Gato Libre is now a trio. They will release a CD and LP in 2017.

In 2010, Tamura debuted a new electric quartet, First Meeting, featuring Fujii, drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto and electric guitarist Kelly Churko. Their first release, Cut the Rope, is "is a noisy, free, impatient album, and ranks among Fujii and Tamura's most accomplished," according to Steve Greenlee in the Boston Globe.

While fronting groups and recording as a leader, Tamura has also played an integral role in nearly all of Satoko Fujii's many projects. He is featured on all of the CDs by Satoko Fujii's various orchestras (NY, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, and Berlin) and has contributed original compositions and arrangements to each of their 19 critically celebrated albums. In addition, he was a featured soloist in the Satoko Fujii Quartet, her avant-rock free jazz group that also included Tatsuya Yoshida of The Ruins. Of his work on the quartet's 2003 release Minerva, Mark Keresman wrote in JazzReview.com, "Natsuki Tamura's trumpet has some of the stark, melancholy lyricism of Miles, the bristling rage of late 60s Freddie Hubbard and a dollop of the extended techniques of Wadada Leo Smith and Lester Bowie."

Tamura is a vital member of Fujii's Min-Yo Ensemble as well. "Tamura tempers his avant-garde antics with an innate lyricism," wrote Steve Smith of Time Out New York in his review of Fujin Raijin, the intimate acoustic quartet's debut CD. He's also been singled out for his contributions to Fujii's ma do ensemble. "With Tamura's brash and glowing lines, the band incorporates mesmeric ostinatos and thrusting opuses into the grand schema," Glenn Astarita wrote in Ejazznews about their first CD, Desert Ship.

Collaborative groups also play an important role in Tamura's career. Most recently, Tamura joined Fujii and two French musicians, trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins, to form Kaze, which made their recording debut in 2011. In 2015, they released their third album, Uminari, which Jazz Magazine (France) called, "a compelling example of free jazz today. Compositions are perfectly scripted, with a well-oiled interaction and playing of beautiful power..." The collaborative trio Junk Box, which he co-founded in 2006 along with pianist Fujii and drummer John Hollenbeck, plays Fujii's "composed improvisations," graphic scores that take "ensemble dynamics to great creative heights," says Kevin Le Gendre in Jazzwise. Their music "is full of bluster and agitation that nonetheless retains moments of great melodic beauty, usually by way of concise, pertly pretty motifs that trumpeter Tamura plays in between bursts of withering roars that often dissolve into austere overtones." Their premiere CD, Fragment, appeared in 2006. As Daniel Spicer wrote of Fragment in JazzWise, "Tamura spits out gloriously rude Lester-Bowie-like snorts, lows like a herd of robotic cattle or makes like a wheezy howler monkey... Cool and clever." Glenn Astarita of All About Jazz declared it "Required listening."

Along the way, there have been one-off cooperative groups and sideman appearances for Tamura as well. In the Tank, an ad hoc quartet with Fujii and electric guitarists Takayuki Kato and Elliott Sharp, is a "triumphant electro-acoustic adventure" according to Daniel Spicer of Jazzwise. "Think AMM meets blues guitar meets 1970s Miles Davis and you get some idea of the disc's flavor: a slow-moving panorama for the ears, where sounds are systematically added, repeated, refined, and replaced in turn," wrote Nate Dorward in Cadence. Tamura and Fujii were one of two piano/trumpet duos featured on the Double Duo Crossword Puzzle CD, a live recording with Dutch trumpeter Angelo Verploegen and pianist Misha Mengelberg. Tamura has also toured and recorded with saxophonist Larry Ochs' Sax and Drumming Core, and appeared on albums by drummer Jimmy Weinstein, saxophonist Raymond McDonald, and CDs by Japanese free-jazz pioneers trumpeter Itaru Oki and pianist Masahiko Sato. In 2014 he released Nax, a duet album with bassist Alexander Frangenheim. Tamua has toured throughout Japan, North America, and Europe, appearing at major jazz festivals, concert halls, and clubs."

-Natsuki Tamura Website (http://www.natsukitamura.com/bio)
2/26/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Moving Off the Earth (Joan Jonas) 5:17

2. You Better Grow Up (Louise Bourgeois) 11:32

3. Falling Blue (Agnes Martin) 4:09

4. Outburst (Judit Reigl) 3:51

5. Beauty in Disarray (Jakucho Setouchi) 8:33

6. Down Below (Leonora Carrington) 5:27

7. Dusk to Dawn (Toko Shinoda) 5:30

Related Categories of Interest:


Tzadik
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Electro-Acoustic
Electro-Acoustic Improv
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Large Ensembles
Parkins, Zeena
Mori, Ikue
Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura's Libra Label
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music

Search for other titles on the label:
Tzadik.


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