Trouble Kaze

June
Helix LX 009

What do you do to change things around when you’re a constantly experimenting improviser, part of a long-running French-Japanese quartet consisting of two trumpeters, a pianist and a drummer? Well if you’re collectively the members of Kaze, which has been well-received in this format since 2011, you further enlarge the band. But like the biblical tale of Noah who had animals march into his ark by twos, Kaze arranged for the continued evolution of the band by adding an additional trumpeter and another drummer. Now called Trouble Kaze, the group’s unique configuration of Japanese trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and French trumpeter Christian Pruvost now includes concurrent timbres from French pianist Sophie Angel alongside Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii; while Didier Lasserre, another French drummer joins his countryman Peter Orins in the percussion section.

Practiced in dealing with the timbral challenges of aggregations large and small, Lille-based Orins and Pruvost already cinched ideas with the Japanese pianist and trumpeter, who originated myriad groups, especially combos and big bands under Fujii’s leadership. With a parallel attitude, Paris-based Agnel is not only a member of the Orchestre National de Jazz, but has spent years in the company of experimental players including saxophonist Daunik Lazro. Another Lazro associate, Lasserre has worked with pianists like Jobic Le Masson and trumpeters such as Jean-Luc Cappozzo. Alternately as sunny or stormy as summer weather, June’s five-part instant composition is disturbing only in how un-unusual the performance is. Paired like lovebirds, but with enough antagonistic tropes to be opposing lawyers, the three pairs make other instruments’ timbres superfluous.

Building slowly through a series of inner and outer piano keyboard and string pressures that vertically emphasize variable timbres, these plotted variations gradually intensify musical tension, underscored by horizontally moving percussion rolls and clashes. The polyrhythmic and polyphony result reaches one climax at the beginning of “Part III” as heraldic brass slurs turn to growls that are fashioned from air forced through trumpet bells. As Tamura and Pruvost produce a sequence of emphasized grace notes and brassy bugle-like upsurges where the advances of Don Cherry and Donald Ayler appear to be the alpha and omega of their exposition, intermittent drum pulses nearly disappear as the narrative is driven by piano continuum encompassing xylophone-like stopped key resonation and keyboard notes ricocheting back for connective color. With “Part IV” chiefly devoted the microscopic tension-relief from the drummers, sometimes done so intricately that it’s almost inaudible, it seems appropriate that gong-like reverberation plus baleful brass tongue fluttering and plunger notes precede the final section.

Fowl quacks mixed with sibilant noises from the trumpeters, inner piano reverberations plus a powerful drum beats eventually gives way to theme restatement, which like a ball of wool being played with by a kitten is pulled farther and farther apart so that single strands of drum pop and trumpet bursts mark the finale. Although the expression three into two won’t go may be true, when six inventive musicians take on the task previously done by four, the results are not only possible but profound.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Part I 2. Part II 3. Part III 4. Part IV 5. Part V

Personnel: Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost (trumpet) Satoko Fujii and Sophie Agnel (piano) and Peter Orins and Didier Lasserre (drums)