KYOTO JAZZ MASSIVE / “Endless Flight”
Kyoto Jazz Massive are the Japanese DJ/musician producing team of brothers Shuya and Yoshihiro Okino. They are well known for both their live DJ sets and their remixes. Last year they assembled a band and toured extensively in support of their full length album release Spirit of the Sun (in contrast to the many original and remix singles). In addition to Japanese musicians, KJM recruited UK songstress Vanessa Freeman to be their lead vocalist. Vanessa is what attracted me to their live set, which I have not found available as a commercial recording but is available on several websites.
For those interested in KYM as a production team, Kyoto Jazz Massive—Tenth Anniversary, a double-CD retrospective on Compost Records is a must have. Although I appreciate the remixes and studio productions, I really enjoy the live, full band music. I’m a jazz head. I dig live interaction and improvisation; hearing how the musicians react to and interact with each other in real time; experiencing how they spontaneously compose the music as they solo. Kyoto Jazz Massive Live Set is a forward looking throwback to a jazz era when Pharoah Sanders, Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd and a whole crew were making adventurous jazz-based dance and trance music.
KJM made an excellent choice in including Vanessa Freeman as the lead vocalist and Tasita D'Mour as the backing vocalist. They work well together and I especially enjoy the verve, wit and soulfulness Vanessa brings to contemporary music. Vanessa Freeman makes a big, big difference.
Except for “The Brightness of These Days” (from Spirit of the Sun) all of the cuts are from a live set: Kyoto Jazz Massive Live Set @ Birdland in Vienna, Austria (July 2006). The line up is:
Yoshiro Okino - decks/synth
Vanessa Freeman - vocals
Tasita D´Mour - vocals
S. Hirakawa - keyboards
K. Ikeda - bass
M. Amakura - drums
H. Nishioka - percussion
S. Hishiyama - pablo, bro, keyboards
This is Seventies-based jazz updated. I have the studio stuff, but I keep going back to this live set. It feels so upful. I was almost discouraged when I heard the thumping disco/house beat starting off Pharoah Sanders’ song “Love Is Everywhere” but they won me over with the groove once the identifiable bass line set in and Vanessa cranked it up. “Endless Flight” is my favorite because of the piano solo and the high energy of the band. The whole set is happening, not a clunker on the set list.
Also, do yourself a huge favor and go here for two videos: “Thank You” and “River Of Love” (featuring vocalist Bembe Segue). "River Of Love" is straight-up, straight-out a Dee Dee Bridgewater/Pharoah Sanders bag. check it out, you'll see and hear what I mean.
They ought to release Live Set on CD or as an official download, meanwhile you can go to this Brazilian website and get it. I don’t know how long it will be available but it’s there now. Word.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
We're both biased
I'm laughing right now because this really shows the difference in how me and Kalamu hear music. All the reasons he lists for why he prefers live Kyoto over their studio work apply to me, except in reverse. I have some of Kyoto's studio recordings and remixes and I like them. I like the slight jazzy feel they bring to their electronica. I don't listen to their stuff for improvisation or on-the-fly interaction. For me, it's like their live stuff turns them into a halfway decent jazz band instead of a good electronica band who uses elements of jazz.
But I know why we hear these things differently. It's because we're both biased. Kalamu's got jazz ears. I have hip-hop ears. Kalamu listens for the improvisation and the instrumental creativity. I listen for a good groove, repetition and the texture of the sounds: hard bass, crisp snares, etc. Take a listen and see which side y'all fall on.
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