| Kazutoki Umezu "Kiki" Band
Kazutoki Umezu - as., ss., cl., bcl
Kido Natsuki - guitar
Hayakawa Takeharu - bass
Niida Kozo - drums
Kazutoki Umezu "Kiki" Band, is difficult to categorize. It
may be the newest type of Jazz-Rock. Its sound may be like progressive
rock. They like unusual beats. But basically it must be jazz. If you listen
the rhythm, you'll feel rock, and if you follow the melody you feel like
listening ethnic music. And each member's solo performance is very powerful,
soulful and interesting. Now their music and teamwork is very tight and
full of energy. Everybody who has heard "KIKI" BAND, think it's
a real sensational band!
"KIKI" was formed by Kazutoki Umezu at 1999 for
a tour to Africa. At the time, he did not have a main band in Japan.
He really wanted to make a band that was powerful with various musical
sensibilities, as well as with a small member lineup. So he chose
these 3 musicians. 4 people were enough.
Kido Natsuki (born in 1964) is the most important
guitarist in the Japanese progressive rock scene. Also he plays avant-garde
improvised music and on the other hand he may join to play tango or ethnic
folk songs. At first everybody will be surprised at his guitar technique,
but soon they will understand his emotional musical sense.
He has been playing with his own band "BONDAGE FRUIT", "PERE-FURU""COIL"and
the all-acoustic band "WARE HOUSE". Also he is producing his
own label"Maboroshi no Sekai". "BONDAGE FRUIT"was
invited by "Scandinavian Progressive Rock Festival"in 1998 and
"Prog Fest '99" at San Francisco. In 2002 Richard Sinclair chose
Kido for his Japanese unit. He is also a great composer, he offers some
compositions to "KIKI".
Hayakawa Takeharu (born in 1954) is well-known
as the a bassist of "Dr UMEZU BAND" and "SHIBUSA SHIRAZU".
He has been playing with UMEZU since 1978 "SEIKATSU KOJO IINKAI ORCH".
He debuted while still in high school, and was touted as a genius jazz
bassist. But he wasn't satisfied to play only jazz, he started to play
electric bass and play R&B, Funk, Pop and Rock music. He always keep
the rhythm so tight and makes own groove with Niida's drum. It makes solo
players feel free. His solo playing is powerful and makes a uniquely potent
sound. Nobody can play like him. He also leads his own band "HAYAKAWA",
but he is always eager to play with various musicians like Satoko Fujii,
Coil and so on. That's why many musicians want to have him as their bassist.
By the way he is also famous as a bicyclist. He contributes some of his
own composition to "KIKI" as well.
Niida Kozo (born in 1953) is the master drummer
of rock. He had been playing in "RC SUCCESSION" that was the
most famous rock band at 80's in Japan and Jun Togawa's"YAPOOZ".
He is still playing rock with Koichi Makigami's "HIKASU". And
made his own group "Drummers" that is made up only several rock
Drummers. Not only playing rock, but also he learn many type of drumming,
jazz, Latin, polka and African rhythm. He brought many styles to "SHAKUSHAIN"
and "KOMATCHA KLEZMER". He is particularly interested in Asian
music, like Balinese. So he always brings new ideas to "KIKI"s
rhythm section. Of course it comes out of a basic, deep beat.
"KIKI" had a tour of Africa, going to Kenya, Tanzania, South
Africa in 2000. They went to Paris and Cologne, Singapore & Kuala
Lumpur in 2002.
They released "KIKI" in 2001, a live recording of their African
tour "Greetings from Africa" in 2002, and "Land Dizzy"
in 2002. "Live at Moers" in 2004.
(born in 1949) is one of the most important reed players in the
world. He is not only a well-known jazz master, but also a great improvisor
to collaborate with. He works with many different kinds of music and
dance performance. He is always acquiring new sources for improvisation
and composition. The one thing that does not change is the sound of
his saxophone. It's always clear, beautiful and strong.
He may blow strong and speedy like a demon and then sometimes very humorous
and then again sometimes melancholic 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 a flexible mind that can make
music with many different types of musicians, and still be able to keep
his own style. This may be a contradiction for most musicians, but in
the music of Kazutoki Umezu, flexibility and consistency do not exclude
Umezu made his professional debut while still a student at Kunitachi Music
College with his own band "SEIKATSU KOJOU I-INKAI".
Active in new jazz movement centered around Studio We, Studio Rivbea,
and Ali's Alley in New York City, from 1974 to 1975. He played with "TED
DANIEL'S THIRD WORLD ENERGY ENSEMBLE" "SUNNY MURRAY TRIO"
"THE ABORIGINAL MUSIC SOCIETY"and had many sessions with musicians
such as Lester Bowie, Olu Dara, Joe Bowie, Oliver Lake, David Murray,
William Parker, Rashied Ali.
Upon return to Japan, formed the immensely popular"SEIKATSU KOJOU
IINKAI ORCHESTRA". They released 2 records.
In 1980, Umezu performed at the Donau Eschingen Music Festival with pianist
Yoriyuki Harada. He also began playing in the popular Japanese rock band
From 1981 for a period of seven years, toured Japan and Europe extensively
with "DOCTOR UMEZU BAND". They performed twice at the Moers
Jazz Festival. They made 8 records in 8 years.
Starting in the mid-80's he played frequently at "Knitting Factory"
in New York, with musicians in NY such as John Zorn, George Lewis, Tom
In 1988, he formed the band "DIVA" with three women, which disbanded
after one year. They released 1 CD.
From 1989 to 1997, Umezu led the seven-member "SHAKUSHAIN" which
takes its name from a legendary Ainu hero. They toured in Japan and made
From 1990, he toured for four consecutive years as the third member of
"THIRD PERSON" with Tom Cora and Samm Bennett. They recorded
Around the same time 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. Each recorded one CD. In 1999, he performed with
Marc Ribot, Brad Jones and Kenny Wollesen in NY, and also recorded a CD
"Pandora's Cocktail" with this lineup.
Formed a eighteen-member klezmer band, the only one in Japan, "BETSUNI
NANMO KLEZMER" in 1992, and formed smaller klezmer, gypsy band "KOMTCHA
KLEZMER" in 1995. Recorded 3cds for "BETSUNI NANMO KLEZMER",
1cd for "KOMTCHA KLEZMER".
In 1998, he was invited by Ian Dury to tour in England as a member of
Ian Dury & the 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 had
four tours in 1999, 2002, 2004 in Europe and 2002 in Japan. 2 cd was released
and the latest one will be released in 2004.
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 in1999 and in Paris and Cologne, as well
as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in 2002. They performed at "Moers New
Jazz Festival "in 2003. 3 CDs from this band are currently available.
Umezu's current ongoing projects are "KAZUTOKI UMEZU "KIKI"
BAND, "KOMTCHA KLEZMER", "The Six Winds" and "BETSUNI
In addition to pursuing his own projects, Umezu continues to participate
in projects by other people, both in and outside of Japan, with jazz musicians
and improvisors 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 key figures of the New York improvised 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
or Tonic in New York.
Outside of jazz and improvisation, he has recently played with Fanfare
Ciocarlia, and has played blues with B.B. King, Bernard Purdie; rock with
Ian Dury & the Blockheads, RC Succession, Hikasu; Rumba with Roby
Ameen, El Negro Horacio Hernandez; traditional Japanese music with Michihiro
Sato; Okinawan Island folk with Tetsuhiro Daiku; Taiko with KODO, Leonard
Eto, Eitetsu Hayashi,Ondekoza; Korean shamanist music with Kim Suk Chul,
Kim Yong Taek; music for dance with Saburo Teshigawara,Kzuko Takemoto,Kazuo
Ohno; Butoh with Touru Iwashita (Sankai-juku), Koji Motoki-- just an example
of some of the musical scope that Umezu covers, and his energetic pursuit
of unrestricted collaborations with other musicians and different varieties
He has also completed the sixth of his annual "OH-SHIGOTO" session
of consecutive live shows, the "collective edition" of his such
work with others. Over a period of 20 straight days, he played every day
a different set with 70 different musicians, the event ending in tremendous
success. Now he is doing 6days"OHSHIGOTO" annually these past
He has produced events and festivals at Club Citta Kawasaki such as "SHICHITEN-BATTOU"
and "Cabaret OH-BUROSHIKI", 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.
© Jūratė Kučinskaitė