31st Vilnius Jazz Festival. 11-14 October, 2018
Kazutoki Umezu KIKI Band Vilnius Jazz'2004
Kazutoki Umezu "Kiki" Band (Japan):

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.

Kazutoki Umezu (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 each other.

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 RC Succession.

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 Cora.

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 2 CDs.

From 1990, he toured for four consecutive years as the third member of "THIRD PERSON" with Tom Cora and Samm Bennett. They recorded 2 CDs.

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 NANMO KLEZMER".

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 of music.

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 4 years.

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

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