The prolific husband and wife team of pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura has found yet another fertile vehicle in Kaze. French drummer Peter Orins and trumpeter Christian Pruvost combines with the Japanese pair In an unusual instrumentation. On their third offering Uminari the combo stretches the boundaries even more than on previous outings, and not only in terms of time (clocking in at over 70 minutes). However the session retains the positive attributes of its predecessors: blistering excitement, imaginative unconventional arrangements, and examination of unlikely timbres.
Aside from her considerable compositional acumen, Fujii is guaranteed to generate thrills at the keyboard, but she also delves into offbeat sonorities with preparations under the bonnet of piano sounding like a gamelan orchestra or a koto. Tamura similarly revels in the sonic possibilities of the trumpet, at times recalling earlier archetypes such as Bubber Miley with his expressive plunger work, then at other points whinnying and muttering with playful abandon. Orins is a potent presence, even suggesting ritual Taiko drummers with his energetic bashing on "Running Around."
Across five pieces, which originate from the pens of each band member, with only Fujii contributing above her quota, they traverse a wide range of mood and feeling. "'Tioky Astimo" opens the album with the sort of prolonged fanfare which might be the culmination of many other discs. But that intensity can't be sustained indefinitely and eventually the needle drops out of the red, as Tamura (in the left channel) embellishes over a staccato backing. After a trumpet unison, a free for all ensues during which Fujii excels with scurrying piano squalls, before another cooling down and a final athletic trumpet pairing. Phew!
In a complete change of pace, the start of "Vents Contraires" is all high pitched drone, trumpet splutters and rhythmic squeaks as the quartet show their predilection for sound exploration. A portentous piano line hints at the structure to come. Above pounding drums the two trumpets circle squawking like predatory birds. Thereafter Pruvost (in the right channel) takes a rangy boppish solo before yet more episodic developments. The Frenchman shines on the title track, apparently talking through the trumpet to create a sort of distorted intercom announcement almost Kafkaesque in the sense of alienation it evokes.
If there is one downside it is that the balance perhaps shifts too much towards timbral investigation at the cost of the power and glory of the surging ensemble, such that "Inspiration" is a lengthy study of unusual textures and extended techniques which struggles to hold interest for its 20 plus minute duration.