French-Japanese cooperative Kaze
continues to thrive on Sandstorm
, its fifth release. This time out, the enduring line-up of pianist Satoko Fujii
, trumpeters Natsuki Tamura
and Christian Pruvost
, and drummer Peter Orins
, is supplemented by New York-based electronic artist Ikue Mori
, on a program of seven cuts from a NYC studio session in February 2020.
While previous albums have either presented charts from across the band or off-the-map explorations, here they combine both. Three short collectives separate four longer compositions, one from each principal, which are largely skeletal affairs that act as frameworks for unfettered expression, whether together or alone.
The first eight minutes of "Rivodoza" (a Malagasy word for tornado) might also serve as an allusion to the meteorological phenomenon of the title, as gusty brass exhalations merge with insect-like stridulation from Mori, and rattles from the piano interior. Only Orins holds back. At the very end, a tolling piano and lurching drum beat emerge in a stately procession over which the trumpets expound a mournful yet attractive dirge, washed by piano reverberations and electronic surf.
Such collaborative exchanges are balanced by ample space for personal invention. That is notably the case in "Kappa" where varied trumpet unisons demarcate a series of unaccompanied segments which gradually acquire further support. In her introductory feature Mori issues a characteristic range of murmurs, mutters and squiggles, while the two trumpeters draw subtly different results from the contemporary lexicon of smears, whinnies, stuttering plosives and vocalizations. While Fujii primarily contributes structural elements, she takes one of her few turns in the spotlight here, scattering piano grapeshot, only to skirt melody, until subsumed in a churning finale.
Similarly expansive, the closing "Noir Soir" offers another Fujii outing, rumbling thunderously on this occasion, as well as a conversational showing from Pruvost preceding a bickering tandem with Tamura. Enjoyment of the Japanese trumpeter's own excursion will be colored by acceptance or otherwise of his vocal gymnastics which, while hewing to the same unconventional contours, entirely replace his instrument.
It is the freeform sections which best showcase Mori's idiosyncratic electronics. On the pulsing "Noir Poplar" she joins in a gurgling, muttering duet with Pruvost, who at one point even emulates her sonorities. She also figures strongly in the swirling give and take of "Poco A Poco," the most atmospheric of the group improvisations.
With its well-judged amalgam of adventurous and empathetic ensemble playing, and striking individual flights, Sandstorm constitutes yet another fine entry into the band's discography.
Rivodoza; Poco A Poco; Kappa; Under The Feet; Noir Poplar; Suna Arashi; Noir Soir.