Saturday, April 27, 2013

Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra: Bloom

I was surprised composing was so much fun ( Asuka Kakitani)
A promissing debut album
Hans Koert

Asuka Kakitani – Japanese born composer, arranger and conductor, debuted with her Jazz Orchestra at a 2013 album, entitled Bloom.

Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra: Bloom (19/8 1025) (photo courtesy: Jaime Kahn)

An 18 members big band, directed by a young woman - eight tracks, all but two,  composed by Asuka Kakitani.  A name, unknown in this part of the world - Who is she?

Asuka Kakitani (photo courtesy: Hanayo Takai)

 Asuka Kakitani was born in Osaka (Japan) in a musical family and started to study classical piano when she was a teenager. At her 19th she heard the music of Bud Powell and that led to a life-changing epiphany – since that day she wanted to play like Bud Powell – to sound like Bud Powell   ……  Other bebop pianist fascinated her, like Sonny Clark and Hampton Hawes, more popular in Japan then in the US …….
(photo courtesy: Eliseo Cardona)
She studied piano at Kyoto School of Music and moved to the US to study at Berklee’s. Instead of a piano player she became a composer …………. About this turning point in her career she said: Before I went to Berklee I almost never wrote tunes. I was surprised it was do much fun.  Her first big arrangement was Coltrane’s My Favorite Things and so it started. Being a composer she feels more free then as a pianist ……. Playing piano, I wanted to play like Bud of Monk, like there’s a box I have to fit in. But I feel freer as a composer.
She was accepted by the BMI workshop as a member and since that time her arrangements and compositions are played at several occasions. Thanks to composer, bandleader and trombonist JC Sanford she started to launch her own group and this debut album, Bloom, is with her Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra, seventeen men and one woman, which found a place to perform at the Brooklyn’s Tea Lounge, in a series of concerts entitled Size Matters ……….

Asuka Kakitani (photo courtesy: Hanayo Takai)

Her album Bloom was a surprise – first of all, of course, to learn that this young woman leads such a professional qualified big band ………….. The sound of the band is lyric and melodic and, as a good arranger should know, it inspires the musicians in her band. The liner notes read that her music is inspired by stories of life and the world around us ………. Stories that are often quite simple, yet extremely moving ………….. Texts like: Sometimes I’m in awe of nature’s perfect beauty and powerful life force. The elements of the natural world inspire me to express myself through my music as genuinely as possible , and …………..  Well, to be honest, this kind of words in the liner notes, meant well, don’t inspire me to buy an album -  The music should speak for itself ... the harmonies, the sound and it did .... it impressed ……….. Can’t wait to hear your next album, Asuka!

Bloom can be ordered at Asuka Kakitani's website.

 Hans Koert
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Inspired by great names like Bud Powell, Sonny Clark and Hampton Hawes she wanted to become a jazz pianist, but, while studying at Berklee she learned to arrange and compose.  I was surprised it was so much fun  Asuka Kakitani remembered ...... Recently her debut album as a composer and a bandleader was released: Bloom.

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