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Saturday, March 9, 2024

Kaze - Unwritten (Libra / Circum Disc, 2024)

By Eyal Hareuveni

Unwritten is the first free improvised album of the Japanese-French quartet Kaze - Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura with French trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins - in its 13-year history (extended version of Kaze, Trouble Kaze, with French pianist Sophie Agnel and drummer Didier Lasserre recorded before a free improvised album, June (Circum Disc, 2017). The new, eighth album of Kaze was recorded live in the hometown of Pruvost and Orins, at La Malterie in Lille in May 2023. Orins did the mixing and editing and contributed the cover photo.

Kaze always improvised with its written compositions. Fujii, Tamura, Pruvost and Orins have played free improvised music on other formats and opportunities many times before, and all are well-versed in the art of the moment. Their accumulated experiences, as individuals and as a collective, enriched Kaze’s dynamics with the immediacy of improvisation and the logic of composition, and a strong consciousness of structure.

The opening piece, the 37-minute, “Thirteen Years” celebrates the unconventional and far-reaching sonic vision of Kaze. It is shaped as a haunting, often subversive story with rare beauty. This piece flows patiently and naturally between inventive and sometimes even radical sonic searches, with extended breathing and percussive techniques, including playing inside the piano, and thoughtful yet dramatic, well-balanced group interplay, spiced with many quiet and even abstract surprises and a sublime lyricism. Just listen to the mid-piece, twisted and otherworldly trumpet conversation of Tamura And Pruvost and how Fujii and Orins charge this conversation with wise piano and percussive touches towards the thunderous coda.

Fujii solidifies the lyrical, melancholic veins of this set in the second, sparse and slow-cooking improvisation “We Waited”. Pruvost’s metallic, cyclical breaths with Tamura’s sorrowful vocalizations and Orins’ textural and powerful percussion slowly intensify and its moody, atmosphere, until Kaze erupts with full power. Orins goes full circle to the opening of the first improvisation with the enigmatic timbral searches and textures in his introduction to the last, third improvisation “Evolving”, and Fujii, Tamnura and Pruvost join him only for the short chaotic and joyful conclusion.

Samuel Beckett said once that the task of an artist is to find a form that accommodates the mess. Kaze’s free improvisations do more that. With no prior knowledge, most listeners would not guess that Unwritten was free improvised. This is the magic of Kaze - its wisdom, experience and imagination on how to move organically between the composed and the improvised.


FreeJazz Jeff said...

A wonderful summation!
This music is startling at first, truly mesmerizing ever after.
5 1/2 stars out of 5

Anonymous said...

The best album I've heard this year!

Don Phipps said...

Exciting, imaginative, and poetic - this album hits the trifecta! Thanks for sharing!