A review on Christmas Day? Well...it started on Christmas Day anyway. Had it not been for the fact I dearly love what I do and Asuka Kakitani
is perhaps one of only three jazz orchestra's that impressed me the most in the last three years then I could have easily enjoyed my time off and let this one slip under the radar or at the very least wait till after the first of the year. Too good to wait!
What sets Bloom ahead of the pack is that if there were something similar to a world music inspired big band or large ensemble approach to jazz, Asuka Kakitani would have it nailed cold. With influences that include not only her global travels but that of art, literature and nature.
Bloom sidesteps the more traditional pins your ears to the wall screaming big band sound for a a more universal orchestrated sound seemingly designed to attack a larger more diverse audience, what is even more impressive is that this Bloom's debut release so this is definitely a name to stay on top of. There is a deceptively subtle approach to both the visceral and cerebral that sneaks up on you, a quiet beauty and grace that transcends the self imposed limitations of genre and instead has you thinking on more of a open ended scale of just what a relatively small jazz orchestra can accomplish with 18 members and a rock solid debut release. Kakitani's inventive use of harmonics and keeping the melodic concept of each tune in its most organic state help separate her orchestra from the rest of the pack by leaps and bounds. Kakitani is also one of those artists or in this case composers with the uncanny ability to work from a personal level of how her life force has had a direct impact on her existence. A cultural by product of her own invention be it as simply as a sunny day or as complex as reharms of Japanese children's songs, the melody is never over-ridden with pretentious nonsense of fellow musicians whose self absorbed desire for attention can some times reharm a tune beyond all recognition. The melody is the master and the creativity of Kakitai seems to know no bounds. Strong rich colors from a natural world push this recording to the next level. Lyrical yet deceptively subtle in her approach, this may well be the new voice of what many consider traditional big band.
The zen-like less is more approach places her jazz orchestra on not just a jazz/classical tightrope but with the unique world flavor tossed in for good measure. In terms of saving the best for last Kakitani and her debut release can be summed up as stunning as it totally realigns the form and function that the vast majority of us associate with the modern jazz orchestra. For post modern jazz aficionados this is right in your wheel house. If you have perhaps avoided jazz orchestras feeling they were a bit played out, Bloom is like a sonic soul shower for your complete being. An absolute winner, one would have to dig deep and take hyper-critical to another level to find anything negative concerning Bloom.
Pre-Orders are now being taken at www.asukakakitani.com
Asuka Kakitani: composer, arranger, conductor; John O'Gallagher: alto, soprano sax, flute; Ben Kono: alto, soprano sax, flute; Jason Rigby: tenor sax, clarinet; Mark Small: tenor sax, clarinet; Kenny Berger: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Jeff Wilfore: lead trumpet, flugelhorn; David Spier: lead trumpet, flugelhorn; John Bailey: trumpet, flugelhorn; Matt Holman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mark Patterson: trombone; Matt McDonald: trombone; Jacob Garchik: trombone; Jeff Nelson: bass trombone; Pete McCann: acoustic and electric guitar; Mike Eckroth: piano, rhodes piano; Dave Ambrosio: acoustic and electric bass; Mark Ferber: drums; Sara Serpa: voice.
Pre-Orders Now Being Taken at www.asukakakitani.com