31st Vilnius Jazz Festival. 11-14 October, 2018
Vilnius Jazz'2005

Kazutoki Umezu / Hiviya Katan (Japan):

Kazutoki Umezu - reeds
Hiviya Katan - g, voc

Vilnius Jazz festival often brings in creative and resourceful Japanese jazz musicians, perfectly measuring up with the festival's idea. Doubtfully, contemporary jazz in the country of Rising sun is among the most creative happenings, every time opening new vistas for its listeners. This year festival offers a different look at the saxophonist Kazutoki Umezu, whom Lithuanian audience has already become fond of from his performance with Kazutoki Umezu "Kiki" Band and with our drummer Vladimir Tarasov at the festival last year. This time the saxophonist is coming with an eccentric guitarist and singer Hiviya Katan. Especially for Vilnius Jazz appearance the musicians devised a program featuring new compositions and Hiviya's re-composed works.

Kazutoki Umezu is regarded as one of the world's most significant wind players. He is known not only as a jazz master and a wind instrument virtuoso, but also as a musician collaborating with musicians of various styles and constantly enriching his improvisations with new sources. It is rather difficult to define his artistic endeavours. He daringly explores fields still unvisited in Japanese jazz: collaborates with Taiko drummers, blues and rock musicians, folk singers, performers of Japanese traditional and Korean shamanistic music, avant-garde jazz musicians, dancers and poets; plays klezmer and Middle Eastern music. In his compositions K.Umezu inventively blends elements of Middle Eastern and European music, rock and jazz. He expertly combines various music styles and performers, compromising neither their individual styles nor Japanese spirit. In his innovative and constantly recharged improvisations and compositions his saxophone retains its unique sound - strong, transparent, beautiful and vigorous.

Still in his student years Kazutoki Umezu formed Seikatsu Kojou Iinkai Orchestra, which since 1970 has enjoyed popularity throughout the world. In 1974-1975 he was actively involved in new jazz studios in New York playing with Ted Daniel's Third World Energy Ensemble, Sunny Murray Trio, The Aboriginal Music Society and musicians such as Lester Bowie, Olu Dard, Joe Bowie, Oliver Lake, David Murray, William Parker, and Rashid Ali.

In 1980 K.Umezu enriched his artistic experience via collaboration with rock group RC Succession. Before long, in European new jazz scene he was known as Dr.Umezu and from 1981 on intensively performed in Europe and Japan with Doctor Umezu Band, which has been documented in 8 albums. That is one of his many experimental groups, list of which includes 3-women group DIVA, 19-member ensemble Betsuni Nanmo Klezmer, small klezmer gypsy ensemble Komtcha Klezmer, septet Shakushain and unique Kazutoki Umezu "Kiki" Band. K.Umezu discography amounts to more than thirty solo albums.

In addition to work in his numerous projects, Kazutoki Umezu collaborates with various Japanese and international musicians. During his professional career he has visited 40 countries everywhere performing with local musicians. The saxophonist is actively involved in various international projects, since mid-eighties he has regularly appeared in Knitting Factory club in New York where he has collaborated with masters of improvised music such as John Zorn, George Rewis, Tom Cora, Samm Bennett, Marc Ribot, Ned Rothenberg, Wayne Horwitz, Anthony Coleman, George Lewis, Fred Frith, Don Byron as well as other new jazz musicians and ensembles Eclecticism and First Deserter. He has also worked with British rock group Ian Dury &Blockheads, Russian jazz musicians Leonid Soybelman, Valentina Ponomariova, Sergey Kuryochin and the patriarchs of Lithuanian jazz Vladimir Chekasin and Vladimir Tarasov. He is a member of international saxophone sextet The Six Winds, collaborates with masters of European new improvised music Peter Brötzman and Carlo Actis Dato.

Kazutoki Umezu is not only a musician, but also works as a producer of various events and festivals, and is one of the artistic directors of Asian Fantasy - Cocoon theatre project, which investigates new music tendencies in Asia. In addition, he is a composer and arranger, writes music for film. He has authored a book Itsudatte Iikagen (1999), wrote critical articles and essays.

This year Kazutoki Umezu brings Hiviya Katan, one of the most eccentric Japanese artists, to Vilnius Jazz. The artists have collaborated for two years already. Hiviya Katan is a unique musician - singer, guitarist and composer. After having specialized in graphic design for many years, in 2001 under the impact of an inspirational encounter with a certain great musician he embarked suddenly on a career as guitarist and singer. "It was like a moment of epiphany", recalls the musician. He took his pseudonym from the late Katan Amano, the legendary doll-maker who has had a great impact on Hiviya. Perhaps, he draws his theatricality from there - Hiviya usually uses feminine attire in his performances.

Hiviya Katan's music resists any kind of simple definition or easy categorization. The surrealistic, literary-minded lyrics, the vocals displaying a wide range of styles, the "genera mixta" compositions combining progressive rock, jazz, punk, pop and ethnic music. The skillful guitar-play with highly original style, incorporation of the elements of virtually all art forms, not to mention the hermaphrodite looks, feminine attire and the compelling way of talking that perfectly match his own brand of performing style.

During the four years of his career Hiviya Katan has played solo and in various formations - acoustic duo, jazz trio, as well as with famous musicians who had performed in Tokyo. Hiviya has collaborated with Kazutoki Umezu and his Kiki Band, eccentric guitarist and producer Haruo Kubota, the Finnish accordion player Kimmo Pohjonen's band Kluster TU including the members of the King Crimson and the ultra-technical Norwegian group Farmers Market. In 2004 he toured with Kluster TU and Farmers Market, visited France for a series of concerts (two of which were a one-man show).

His self-published CD album was awarded the Guitar Nobel Prize from the Contemporary Guitar Magazine.

© Jūratė Kučinskaitė



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