Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

222

KOH: Poetic Songs

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
KOH (Koh Othera) began her musical career with the help of composer and pianist Satoko Fujii, who produced and played on the Japanese vocalist, pianist and composer's spare and promising debut, Yamabuki (Libra, 2005). A unique vocalist and pianist, with a rare sensitivity to poetic texts that are the basis for her playful compositions, KOH proves—six years later, with two completely different releases—why Fujii trusted her talent. On both sets she collaborates with drummer Masahiro Uemura, known for his association with sound sculptor Otomo Yoshihide's outfits and the Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra.


KOH

Do-Chū

KOYA Records

2010

KOH's second release features collaborations with drummer Uemura, Fujii's partner, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, and cellist Nankoh Kumon, a member of the Japanese Segments String Quartet. KOH's compositions follow the essence of her concise poems (all translated into English), and as such have their idiosyncratic outlines, often to surprisingly dramatic effect, and a playful character of building tension and releasing it. Her voice demonstrates wide range, moving from dark bottoms to a spectacular stratosphere.

On the opening "Window," the musical theme follows a short vocal descriptions of sights from a window during wintertime, but KOH and Uemura turn these observations into a drama of courtship between two musicians who improvise on the melody and the words, as well as the vocal content of the observations and the way they are mirrored musically by both players. "Ridgeline" is a beautiful, meditative sound poem, with Tamura in a masterful lyric mode, and cryptic lyrics that refer to our fragile existence. "Santoka," quoting haiku poems by modern poet Santoka Taneda, offers another side of KOH and Uemora—still playful, but with more pathos from KOH, who recites the insightful poems, while Uemura's very own sense of timekeeping accentuates certain segments of the poems and adds a humorous side to this duet.

The most impressive composition is the 12-minutes suite 'GARE," featuring Tamura and Uemura, both stressing KOH's poem about the sense of wonder and enchantment while encountering nature's ever-changing surroundings. All three musicians alternate solos that gain more power, depth and freedom as the suite develops. The chorale-like "Diaphanous veil" finds KOH whispering her mysterious poem, accompanied only by a distant organ, while the dramatic "Moon waxes" patiently keep blossoming, with Koh's assured, dramatic delivery and Uemura's understated drumming. "Signpost" quotes a beautiful poem by poetess Ayako Sono, while "For Whom Do You Love?" features KOH slowly reciting sad verses about the demise of a love-affair, accompanied by minimal piano, offering modest comfort with the harmonious sides of her melody and the poem's striking insights.


Komado-No-Oh

Tension

KOYA Records

2011

Tension is the debut from Komano-No-Oh, the duo of KOH and drummer Uemura, who began to perform under this name in 2009. A sense of playfulness is stressed here, and Uemura has much more freedom, in this context, to interpret KOH's dream-like poems with changing pulses and a wider palette of colors. He mirrors the often cryptic lyrics with healthy doses of fun, either challenging the dramatic delivery or simply injecting a surprising, aggressive shuffle drumming in the middle of an abstract reciting of a poem, as on "A Spider and a Flower."

On "Slope," Uemura accompanies KOH's almost operatic vocals with a galloping pulse that contrasts with KOH's distant delivery. "Ermine" sound like a children's song with its inventive language and the reference to a violent scene that may be borrowed from a popularmanga plot. "Footpath" and "Footprints" both highlight the affinity and telepathic interplay that KOH and Uemura have developed. "Seven" is an atypical ballad, delivered with restraint and grace. The bonus track, "A Swindler—#18," possesses some child-like call-and-response interplay between KOH and Uemura.

Both releases feature the highly creative power of KOH.

Tracks and Personnel

Do-Chū

Tracks: Window; Ridgeline; Santoka; The scent of the morning; GARE; 6variation?; Diaphanous veil; Moon waxes; Signpost.

Personnel: KOH: vocal, piano, keyboard; Natsuki Tamura (2, 5); trumpet; Masahiro Uemura: drums (1, 3, 5, 6, 8); Nankoh Kumon: cello (4).

Komado-No-Oh

Tracks: Doppyou (Spot Elevation); A Spider and a Flower; Slope; Ermine; Footpath; Footprints; Seven; A Swindler—#18.

Personnel: KOH: piano, vocal; Masahiro Uemura: drums.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Latest From Eva-Maria Houben On Edition Wandelweiser Multiple Reviews Latest From Eva-Maria Houben On Edition Wandelweiser
by John Eyles
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Rock Candy: Montrose (eponymous) & Paper Money Multiple Reviews Rock Candy: Montrose (eponymous) & Paper Money
by Doug Collette
Published: December 29, 2017
Read Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition & Rez Abbasi’s Invocation Multiple Reviews Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition & Rez...
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 27, 2017
Read Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa Multiple Reviews Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa
by Doug Collette
Published: December 23, 2017
Read The Original Delaney & Bonnie (Accept No Substitute) and To Bonnie From Delaney Multiple Reviews The Original Delaney & Bonnie (Accept No Substitute)...
by Doug Collette
Published: December 23, 2017
Read Van Morrison: Roll With The Punches & Versatile Multiple Reviews Van Morrison: Roll With The Punches & Versatile
by Doug Collette
Published: December 17, 2017
Read "440 Keys: A Batch of Piano Delights" Multiple Reviews 440 Keys: A Batch of Piano Delights
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Two Sackville Gems: Abdullah Ibraihim's "Ancient Africa" and Oliver Lake and Joseph Bowie's "Live at A Space 1976"" Multiple Reviews Two Sackville Gems: Abdullah Ibraihim's "Ancient...
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 2, 2017
Read "Jazz from the US Virgin Islands' new breed" Multiple Reviews Jazz from the US Virgin Islands' new breed
by Nigel Campbell
Published: November 4, 2017
Read "Lee Morgan On Music Matters" Multiple Reviews Lee Morgan On Music Matters
by Greg Simmons
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "Latest From Eva-Maria Houben On Edition Wandelweiser" Multiple Reviews Latest From Eva-Maria Houben On Edition Wandelweiser
by John Eyles
Published: January 23, 2018
Read "The Narell Brothers: Steelpan Music Merchants" Multiple Reviews The Narell Brothers: Steelpan Music Merchants
by Nigel Campbell
Published: September 9, 2017