290

Billy Fox: Kaidan Suite

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Billy Fox: Kaidan Suite Billy Fox is primarily a composer, although he does play various percussion instruments on both his fine previous release The Uncle Wiggly Suite (Clean Feed, 2007) and Kaidan Suite. He approaches composition eclectically, but there is a decided classical undertone. Note that both recordings are suites, and thus are integrated works, meant to be listened to from beginning to end. Within the composed structure however, he allows much freedom for improvisation, regardless of whether it is of the classical or jazz type, which differ mostly in rhythmic feel.

Kaidan Suite attempts to recreate in musical form the Japanese practice of hyakumonogatari kaidankai, which means telling a series of ghost stories in diminishing candlelight. Furthermore, these stories are not just meant to be scary, but to expose wrongdoing and violence, particularly to women in a misogynistic society. The ghosts return many times to exact revenge and expose right and wrong.

Musically, the suite includes the use of Japanese scales and playing styles that invoke, at least in the beginning, the requisite cultural setting. The sense of stories involving eeriness, fear, tension, betrayal and disembodied revenge is maintained throughout in rising and falling waves as the music moves away from and returns to Japanese references.

The Kitsune Ensemble is evenly split culturally by Westerners playing the lead instruments (flute, clarinets, cello and vibraphone) and Japanese in the rhythm section (piano/organ, bass and drums). Whether the players need knowledge of the musical and/or cultural traditions to be "authentic" is obviously unknown, but in practice it is seemingly irrelevant.

While the listener cannot help but make the Japanese associations by the cover illustration and track titles, the music stands on its own and is very successful in creating the intended mood, even when it moves away from the Japanese scales and undertone.

Drama is what Fox is after, and the expert control of his musical forces is evident throughout the suite. Given the restrictions that are imposed on them, the freer solo sections impress with their appropriateness. The soloist never forgets the mood to be created or dramatic part to be represented.

From this perspective, Kaidan Suite is successful. As the thirteen tracks are played in sequence, the music pulls the listener along, creating an almost visual stage. While a live performance with controlled lighting would be a wonderful, and possibly scary, experience, listening to this finely crafted music is the next best thing.

Personnel: John Savage: flute; Gary Pickard: clarinet, bass clarinet; Christopher Hoffman: cello; Yayoi Ikawa: piano; Tim Collins: vibraphone; Yoshi Waki: bass (2 ,3, 5, 6, 8); Yasushi Nakamura: bass (4, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13); Arei Sekiguchi: drums, percussions; Billy Fox: percussion (10).

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Gozen Reiji Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read In the Still of the Night CD/LP/Track Review In the Still of the Night
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Zea CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Asian Fields Variations CD/LP/Track Review Asian Fields Variations
by John Kelman
Published: May 21, 2017
Read Left Right Left CD/LP/Track Review Left Right Left
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)
by John Eyles
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "Unstatic" CD/LP/Track Review Unstatic
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 11, 2016
Read "Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Imaginist" CD/LP/Track Review Imaginist
by Mike Jacobs
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Moments in Time" CD/LP/Track Review Moments in Time
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, and provide read access to our future articles.