Trouble Kaze – Press



About June (2017)

“Wherever pianist Satoko Fujii and her husband, the trumpeter Natsuki Tamura ply their trade, the unusual follows. Without fail, both—individually and together—have been the purveyors of a collective catalog that has never failed to astound. One of their many outlets has been the free-improvisational group Kaze with drummer Peter Orins and trumpeter Christian Pruvost. While Fujii and Tamura are the drawing card names, Orins—a fine composer in his own right—was the original initiator of the quartet. This variation—Trouble Kaze—was again Orins’ concept -the addition of a second pianist, Sophie Agnel, and a second drummer, Didier Lasserre. The “trouble” part of the name derived from what Orins describes as the conundrum of how to accurately identify the formation; a triple duo or double trio. On June, the naming convention is the least of the challenges.
The new additions to the group, both French nationals, are obscured in the credits—as are all the musicians—as it is not made clear which player is active at any particular moment. Further masking the participants is the overall abstruse nature of the music; there are no prolonged melodies on June until we reach “Part IV” of the five-part suite. The opening “Part I” is very experimental, at times sounding like the tracking system of a depth charge, augmented by heavy bells, elasticized duck calls from a trumpet and playing inside and outside the pianos. “Part II” employs a number of similar extended techniques but concludes in a screaming flow of frenzied noises. The thirteen-plus minute “Part IV” is the first consistent setting for clearly identifying instruments by their conventional sound, not that there is anything conventional about the piece. There is an eerie melodicism in this piece that is completely mesmerizing, as it periodically evaporates into complete silence then emerges in strange otherworldly sounds. Similarly mysterious is the final “Part V” with its obsidian piano and intermittent trumpet blasts and skittering percussion.
If one enters into June with preconceived notions about music, they will be challenged to think again. Recorded live in Lille, France in 2016, without audience feedback, and with no breaks between the tracks, it is an extraordinary accomplishment that requires multiple plays to really absorb its essence. The real appeal of this collection transcends the overall content; it is fascinating in the intricacies of detail within the episodic narratives and it is unlike anything else.” **** Karl Ackermann / All About Jazz

“Avant-garde pianist/composer Satoko Fujii augments her quartet, Kaze, with an additional piano and another drummer, to create Trouble Kaze, for the release of June.
In Fujii’s eighty-plus CD discography, Kaze can be counted as one of her most adventurous modes of artistic expression. With trumpeters Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost working an array of extended techniques to push the limits of their instruments to the maximum; with Fujii’s prepared and inside-the-piano ministrations, and the often explosive drumming from Peter Orins—matched by Fujii on her “outside the piano” detonations—give the group’s three CD offerings—Rafale (2011); Tornado (2013); and Uminari(2015), all on Libra Records—a wildly tumultuous sound, calamity lurking around every corner.
The addition to the group of pianist Sophie Agnel and drummer Didier Lasserre creates Trouble Kaze. Turning a quartet into a sextet would seem to give the sound an increased potential for tumultuousness. But it didn’t happen that way with June, though there are definitely moments that lean into that direction. “Part III” of this five part “noise suite” careens into sonic mayhem; but elsewhere the sound is quite subdued, intricate, nuanced, even minimalist.
A heads up is in order: It’s a stretch to call the bulk of this sonic adventure music, and an appreciation of June will depend on a willingness to submit to the experience of, simply, noise—always a part of Fujii’s artistry, but more so here. And sometimes—in a segment of “Part IV”—the noise is so soft and low volume that it is almost beneath the level of conscious perception. Close attention is recommended.
These sounds have a sense of mystery, a sense of wonder, with small musical interludes interspersed with sparse everyday life rumblings and muted squawlings: “Part V” with a baby crying softly (or is it a ducking; though the sound is almost certainly created by a trumpet) in a distant room juxtaposed with a scary movie soundtrack bumping and clattering in an ominous reverberance in another room. Then in a closer room, a subdued smoke alarm (tired batteries?) goes off, as you stand in a dark hallway and wonder what is happening here.” Dan McClenaghan / All About Jazz

” “Trouble” is another word for “danger,” but can also describe an ensemble that comprises of two trumpeters, two pianists and two drummers, i.e., a double trio/triple duo. That’s the configuration that the French-Japanese improvised music quartet Kaze found themselves with when two more French musicians Sophie Agnel (piano) and Didier Lasserre (drums) were added to the Natsuki Tamura/Satoko Fujii/Christian Pruvost/Peter Orins ‘Kaze’ combo.
But by increasing the depth of the piano and percussion sonorities, the conventional meaning of trouble also applies Trouble Kaze, as they use unconventional methods in thriving on the danger of constructing a musical, passionate narrative on the spot, now involving six artists moving together. In concert, no less.
That’s the output packed into Trouble Kaze’s debut CD June (March 3, 2017 from Circum-Disc), a free jazz symphony of the sort you wouldn’t hear anyplace else. Lending to the symphony feel is a single performance traversing over five phases, or ‘parts,’ separated by turning points where the atmosphere shifts.
The music is mysterious to the point where it’s sometimes not even clear who is making what sound like the opening chord on “Part I,” which actually mimics an overdriven electric guitar. Everyone exploits the full tonal capabilities of their instruments — down to Pruvost using a plastic tube to blow into his trumpet — and rarely does anyone play them in a typical manner.
Those drums, for instance are used for a colorful percussion exhibit that consumes “Part II,” and I’m straining to find anyplace where Orins and Lasserre are keeping time. The pianos sometimes participate in percussion and Fujii and Agnel are seemingly inside their pianos more than they are in front of them. When the keys are played, it’s often done as minimalist repetitions or the random striking of chords. Trumpets are blown into but sometimes notes don’t come out of the other end; instead there might be the white, static murmurs like the hum of generators.
A couple of pianos and drums a piece to go with a dual trumpet section can make an impenetrable noise but Trouble Kaze keep a lot of powder dry; they summon the full force only on a few occasions: the brief explosion 1:37 into “Part III” is an exception that sticks out because at came from nowhere and that outburst wasn’t repeated, although things do get calamitous in the dramatic buildup toward the end of “III,” when dueling horns growl at each other in the middle of this maelstrom.
Rather than taking up tonal space, the sextet often prefers to leave capacious spaces, the longest section “Part IV” going from barren to near complete silence at one point. “Part V” is only slightly denser, eventually suggesting tension but the release never comes.
In spite of the dispersed nature of Trouble Kaze’s June, the addition of Agnel and Lasserre allows this group to do much more than they had been able to do as a quartet and they fully takes advantage of the opportunity. What is given up is the synergy that is possible from less musicians involved…except that in this case, the interplay is as strong as it was pre-Trouble.
And in the final analysis, that’s the major accomplishment of June. Trouble Kaze is an inspired way to extend and expand on the ideas first put forward by Kaze.” S. Victor Aaron / Something Else Reviews

Quelques mots de présentation du groupe : Kaze est un 4tet franco-japonais réunissant Sakoto Fujii (p), Christian Pruvost et Natsuki Tamura (tp) et Peter Orins (dr). Pour cet album “Trouble Kaze”, ils accueillent Didier Lasserre (dr) et Sophie Agnel (p). Une présentation plus complète est disponible sur la page du label :
C’est donc une formation très originale où chaque instrument est doublé. Si l’on ajoute que chacun d’eux est joué d’une manière non académique, vous imaginerez la difficulté à identifier l’apport de chacun.
Ici, pas de trompette aux sonorités éclatantes, pas de douces mélodies au piano (au mieux quelques accords délicats), pas de pulsation régulière à la batterie … mais une imagination débridée dans la création de timbres et dans la composition quasi tachiste des espaces sonores.
Cinq pièces au total, une suite en fait, aux titres laissant peu de place à l’imaginaire : June 1 à 5. L’ensemble se présente comme une trajectoire dont l’intensité culminerait dans la 3ème pièce, avec une richesse de timbres véritablement festive.
Et ce qui domine est une certaine légèreté musicale, ce qui laisse de l’espace pour l’expression de chaque sensibilité, invitant même par moments à tendre l’oreille pour s’assurer que la musique est toujours là. Mais ce n’est pas pour autant une musique minimaliste.
Simplement la nécessité de supprimer toute source sonore externe pour avoir la possibilité d’apprécier des sonorités particulièrement neuves et délicates comme dans June 4, l’errance d’une trompette bouchée dont on ne cesse de se délecter, juste accompagnée de touches légères sur les peaux ou le métal, de rares notes au piano. Laisser les harmoniques et leur richesse se déployer et le trouble s’installer : piano ou batterie ? voix ou cuivre ?
Naturellement la dernière pièce est une forme de pied de nez à cette courbe d’intensité avec une succession impressionniste de micro-éclats (batteries, trompettes, claviers) dans la douceur de quelques accords au piano ou de touches légères sur une cymbale, selon une respiration irrégulière qui menace de défaillir.
Un moment d’hygiène mentale.
Un album particulièrement subtil – Guy Sitruk / Jazz à Paris

In its original form, the French-Japanese collective Kaze was already a novel proposition, with the double trumpet spearhead of Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost allied to Satoko Fujii‘s piano and Peter Orins‘ drums. But on June, the novelty quotient ratchets up a notch further with the doubling of the piano and drum set. That the additional pianist is Sophie Agnel, renowned for her exploration of the piano as a sound generation device, piques the interest yet further. Rather than the usual compositional framework, there’s an unbroken fully improvised performance, demarcated into five parts, which reveals another facet of the group’s identity.
The freewheeling sextet traces the trajectory of a free jazz presentation, but without recourse to melody, rhythm or conventional timbres, resulting in a particularly atmospheric outing. Agnel draws Fujii deep into her orbit with consequentially more than the usual measure of under the bonnet mayhem. “Part I” with indeterminate tinkles, textures, rattles and squeaky toy sonorities acts as a sort of scene setting. By “Part II,” the exchanges becomes gradually denser as a delicate reiterated piano motif vies with fragments of drum tattoos and the first blasts of breathy trumpet. Even though the participants allow each other lots of space, it’s still hard to tell who does what.
By “Part III” the trumpets blossom into a duet of exclamations, exhalations and raspberries, latterly accompanied by crashes from the drums and piano interiors. Assembled from components of marimba-like piano preparations, extended drones, and isolated ostinatos, the band builds to fiery trumpet exhortations over churning percussive stew. In fact Fujii only takes the spotlight briefly in “Part IV” for a slow abstract section, which gives only the barest hints of her abilities and indicates that her ego, like that of all the other members, is subsumed entirely to ensemble purpose.
In due course the interaction subsides into a silence broken only by barely audible percussion and other effects which are less riveting on disc than in concert. Such low key events continue with vocalized muted trumpet and a return to the opening gambit, though this time punctuated by sudden whacks and repeated trumpet notes disconcertingly resembling an electronic alarm. As such, June stands alone from the rest of the Kaze discography, as signaled by the modified name, but those looking for a less daunting introduction to the outfit’s delights might prefer offerings like Tornado (Circum/Libra, 2013) or Uminari (Circum/Libra, 2015). – John Sharpe / All About Jazz

Kaze is the quartet formed by Satoko Fujii on piano and Peter Orins on drums, together with Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost on trumpets. With the addition of pianist Sophie Agnel and drummer Didier Lasserre they become Trouble Kaze. As Orins explains in presenting the group, the moniker is a reference to the new configuration – a double trio or a triple duo, hence “trouble” – that also underlines the possible difficulties of expanding on a carefully balanced ensemble like the original quartet.
Despite this was only the third time these musicians played as a sextet, the performance documented on this record, held at La Malterie in Lille, France, in June 2016, sounds as the work of a fully mature ensemble. The core band slightly alters its approach but maintains a strong identity, while Agnel and Lasserre perfectly understand the group’s dynamics and blend seamlessly in its peculiar sound world.
Kaze means “wind” in Japanese, a hint to the unusual trumpet front-line that also functions as an oblique reference to one of the band’s typical traits, the tendency to patiently build sparse soundscapes that suddenly explode in hammering rhythms and surging anthems, wiping out musical expectations like a sudden wind blast. Throughout the five-part suite that composes June, there’s the same sense of organic development, each piece flowing naturally into the next. This time, though, the discourse is mostly kept on timbre and color, the music evolving from barely audible sounds to more concrete manifestations through intricate textural tapestries and a tight counterpoint of brief, incisive statements. Fujii and Agnel work both on the keys and inside the piano, expanding on the percussive backdrop created by Orins and Lasserre, all four avoiding more concrete harmonic or rhythmic developments.
There’s also a good dose of humor on display, thanks to the unusual timbres created by Pruvost and the irreverent theatrics of Tamura – both absolute masters of extended techniques – who use a variety of mutes and different objects, from small percussions to children toys, to enrich the ensemble’s palette.
The contrast between these elements and the rigorous abstractness of the music has a refreshing effect, adding a slightly surreal atmosphere while maintaining an uncompromising musical integrity, confirming the original Kaze as one of today’s best improvising bands, and this new expansion definitely worthy of further developments as a working group. Nicolas Negri / Free Jazz Blog

Trouble Kaze is the newly expanded edition of the group Kaze, a cooperative free improv jazz venture that includes pianist Satoko Fujii and her trumpet wielding life partner Natsuki Tamura. For this inaugural effort the band is in effect a double-trio, with two trumpets (Tamura and Christian Pruvost), two pianos (Fujii and Sophie Agnel) and two drummers (Peter Orins and Didier Lasserre).
They distinguish themselves in a sort of utra-focused, carefully considered five-part improvisation recorded live. The album is entitled June (Helix LX009) and it is a good one.
The expanded unit allows a series of double duets and six-way confluences. And so to begin we hear twin prepared pianos, twin trumpets in breathy expressions, and twin drums creating distinctive barrages. As the set proceeds we get the intermingling of the pairs and their recombinations in various foreground-background-bothground possibilities.
All six play with a sureness, an impressive authority that at no point sounds tentative, always intricately definitive, sure in their choice of timbral color, periodistic presence and note-sound nowness.
It is free music in no hurry to state it all at once, but rather to open and develop with a gradual inevitableness that is continually rewarding in what it chooses to include (and of course by that to also leave out in any given segment).
With a collective sense of instrumentation-orchestration there are dramatic event arcs, coming to a quiet peak in the two-piano expressions of part four, which we have been prepared for by definitive journeys into this clearing. It is brilliant and by a period of quietude and then the end of part five we are pleasantly satiated and satisfied, appreciative that not ALL has been said, but all that is necessary to give us Trouble Kaze’s June.
It leaves me wanting more in the end, but happy also that this glimpse feels complete in itself. meted out inspiration and sound design of a high nature, a thoughtful forwardness.
June gives to us itself, the six instrumental voices interacting singularly, the group asserting its collectivity in self-less yet self-ful completeness-incompleteness.
This is a prime example of the innovative presence of Fujii, Tamura, and four extraordinarily receptive countervoices. Trouble Kaze is a kind of miracle of listening and acting, both by the performers and by you, the listener.
High improvisational inspiration, this is. Be sure and hear it repeatedly if you can. Kaze and now Trouble Kaze are a seminal group in the new improvisational fold today! Grego Applegate, Gapple Gate Music Review

Music to stretch boundaries and ears! A sextet of two drummers (Didier Lasserre, Peter Orins), pianists (Sophie Agnel, Satoko Fujii) and trumpeters (Natsuki Tamura, Christian Pruvost) make up this five part cooperative collection. Lots of valve sounds which include fluffing, puffing and wheezing squawk along on pieces like “Part III” and the plunger mutes get a workout along with scurrying percussion that sounds like the house is filled with mice on ”Part IV” and “ Part V” with spacious rattles and effects creating an eerie mood on “Part I.” What does it look like in concert? – George W. Harris / Jazz Weekly