Among Japan’s leading voices in modern big band jazz, Kenichi Tsunoda’s ensemble celebrates its 10th anniversary with Big Swing. The leader, 51, attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston and paid his dues in the trombone section of three of Japan’s leading big bands: Toshiyuki Miyama’s New Herd, Nobu Hara’s Sharps & Flats, and the Tokyo Union. Writing his own arrangements, Tsunoda steers his ensemble through original themes that provide intellectual pursuits through and through. The band’s members, many of whom solo at will, must surely enjoy taking their places in the fold; for, their adventurous scenes are filled with detailed contrapuntal action. Every minute of the program has the listener on the forward edge of his or her seat. Featured, individual high points include Tatsuya Sato’s fierce tenor solo on “Darkness,” Hideaki Nakaji’s solo on “Old Devil Moon,” Atsushi Ikeda’s alto solo on “Waltz for Debby,” Yoshiaki Okayasu’s guitar solo on “April Wind,” Yuji Kawamura’s stirring soprano saxophone solo on “La Fiesta,” and trumpet solos by Yoshiro Akazaki and Shiro Sasaki on “A Night in Tunisia.” The performance closes this recommended album with a swinging Duke Ellington anthem that swings both individually and as one big, talented ensemble.
Track Listing: Cerro Torre; Darkness; Big Swing; La Fiesta; Memory; Old Devil Moon;
April Wind; A Night In Tunisia; Waltz for Debby; It Don
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.