| Kazutoki Umezu / Masahiko Satoh (Japan):
The one thing that does not change is the sound of his saxophone. It's always clear, beautiful and strong. He blows it strong and speedy like a devil and then sometimes very humorous and then again sometimes melancholy like the blues or Japanese ENKA.
Most people who hear him perform, get the feeling of Japanese soul. It's quite uncommon for one musician to have both the ability to have a flexible mind to make music with many different types of musicians and to keep his own style. These things seem very opposite but in the music of Kazutoki Umezu, flexibility and consistency do not contradict.
Born 1949 in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. Umezu debuted while still a student at Kunitachi Music College as his own band SEIKATSU KOJOU IINKAI.
Active in new jazz movement in "Studio We", "Studio Rivbea" and "Ali's Alley" in New York City, 1974 through 1975. He played with TED DANIEL'S THIRD WORLD ENERGY ENSEMBLE, SUNNY MURRAY TRIO, THE ABORIGINAL MUSIC SOCIETY and had many sessions with musicians, like Lester Bowie, Olu Dara, Joe Bowie, Oliver Lake, David Murray, William Parker, Rashid Ali.
Upon return to Japan, formed the immensely popular SEIKATSU KOJOU IINKAI ORCHESTRA. They made 2 records.
In 1980, participated in the Donau Eschingen Music Festival with pianist Yoriyuki Harada and started to play with the rock band RC Succession.
From 1981 for a period of seven years, toured Japan and Europe extensively with DOCTOR UMEZU BAND. They performed twice in Moers Jazz Festival. They made 8 records in 8 years.
From the middle of 80th he has been playing at "Knitting Factory" in New York, with musicians in NY like John Zorn, George Lewis, Tom Cora.
Forms the band DIVA with three women in 1988, which disbanded after one year.They made 1 cd.
From 1989 to 1997, Umezu formed the seven-member SHAKUSHAIN which takes its name from a legendary Ainu hero. They were touring in Japan and made 2cds..
Since 1990, has toured for four consecutive years as the third member with THIRD PERSON with Tom Cora and Samm Bennett. Made 2cds.
And in those days he also formed bands in NY, one was ECLECTICISM with Marc Ribot, Curtis Fowlkes, Brad Jones, Samm Bennett and Dougie Bowne. Another is called "First Deserter" with Tom Cora, Wayne Horvitz, Marc Ribot and Samm Bennett. Made 1cd each.
Formed a eighteen-member klezmer band, the only one in Japan, BETSUNI NANMO KLEZMER in 1992, and formed small klezmer, gipsy band KOMTCHA KLEZMER in 1995. 3cds for BETSUNI NANMO KLEZMER, 1cd for KOMTCHA KLEZMER.
In 1998, he was invited from Ian Dury to have tour in England as a member of Ian Dury & Blockheads.
In 1999, he became a member of the saxophone sextet "The Six Winds" formed by Ad Peijinenburg, br.sax player in Holland with Andrew white, Mariette Rouppe van der Voort, Dies Le Duc and Klaas Hekman. They toured 2 times 1999 & 2002 in Europe and 2002 in Japan. 1 cd was released and next one will be coming 2003.
He recently formed the unique band KAZUTOKI UMEZU KIKI BAND in 1999, which blends elements of middle Eastern music, rock and jazz.They toured in Africa @1999 and in Paris & Kolon and Singapol & Kuala Lumpur 2002. Now you can find 3cds.
KAZUTOKI UMEZU KIKI BAND, KOMTCHA KLEZMER, "The Six Winds", BETSUNI NANMO KLEZMER projects are currently ongoing and active.
In addition to pursuing his own projects, Umezu continues to participate in those of others both in Japan and overseas with jazz or improvisation artists such as Yosuke Yamashita, Koichi Makigami, Yoshihide Otomo, Eastasia orchestra, Mal Waldoron, David Murray, Lester Bowie, Barre Phillips, Peter Brotzman, Carlo Actis Dato. He also enjoys musical relationships with leaders of the New York improvisational music scene such as John Zorn, Ned Rothenberg, Anthony Coleman, George Lewis, Fred Frith, Marc Ribot, Frank London, Don Byron, David Krakauer, Kevin Norton, Mark Stewart and Wayne Horvitz, often making appearances with them at the Knitting Factory in New York.
Outside of jazz and improvisation, recently he played with Fanfare Ciocarlia; and he has played blues with B.B. King, Bernard Purdie; rock with Ian Dury &Blockheads, RC Succession, Hikasu; Rumba with Roby Ameen, El Negro Horacio Hernandez; traditional Japanese music with Michihiro Sato; Okinawan Island fork with Tetsuhiro Daiku; Taiko with KODO, Leonard Eto, Eitetsu Hayashi; Korean shamanist music with Kim Suk Chul, Kim Yong Taek; music for dance with Saburo Teshigawara; Butoh with Touru Iwashita ( Sankai-juku ), Koji Motoki; and indication of the musical scope that he covers, as well as his energetic pursuit of unrestricted collaborations with other music and musicians.
He has also completed the sixth of his yearly OHSHIGOTO session of consecutive live shows, the "collective edition" of his such work with others. Over this period of 20 straight days, he played everyday different set with 70 different musicians, the event ending in tremendous success.
He has produced events and festivals at Club Citta Kawasaki such as SHICHITEN-BATTOU and "Cabaret OHBUROSHIKI", and has been one of leading music director for ASIAN FANTASY held at Theater Cocoon, which explores new directions in music with musicians from all over Asia.
Later he was also awarded twice with the Award of Excellency at the National
Art Festival of Japan with his original masterpieces of "Four Jazz
Compositions" (1970) and "Yamataifu" (1972). He released
numerous albums he led the making of such as the U.S. release "Amorphism",
recorded in trio with Steve Gadd(Ds) and Eddie Gomez(B), and "Randooga",
born from the occasion of "Select Live Under The Sky '90" ("Japan
Jazz Award" by Swing Journal Magazine) which was released in France.