Japan: New Orleans Collection Series by Haruka Kikuchi

Japan New Orleans Collection Series by Haruka KikuchiHaruka Kikuchi, energetically driving a band along or playing gently and lyrically, is currently one of the world’s best traditional jazz trombonists. She grew up in Japan and graduated in Music Science at Tokyo University of Fine Arts in 2010. Inspired by Kid Ory, she fell in love with traditional jazz.

In 2014, Haruka made the bold move of emigrating to New Orleans. She was soon in demand and playing with such bands as Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers and The Swamp Donkeys. Today, through her playing with The Shotgun Jazz Band and The Shake ’Em Up Jazz Band, she has become an international favorite. Her diary, up to the moment of the Coronavirus lockdown, was full.

Previous
Next
Previous
Next

Haruka married fellow Japanese musician the superb pianist Yoshitaka Tsuji; and they have a cute little son, Shouta, who has appeared with Haruka in videos—even on last year’s European tour.

Haruka wanted to link Japan with New Orleans in a project to inspire the next generation. So, whenever fellow Japanese players visited New Orleans, she invited them into a recording studio to play music with her new friends. Over four years, she arranged 10 such sessions. Thirty-eight different musicians took part. They included Naho Ishimura, Shingo Kano, Makiko Tamura, and Tomomitsu Maruyama from Japan and locals such as Molly Reeves, Gerald French, Twerk Thomson, and David Boeddinghaus.

This year, Haruka has put together a CD anthology drawn from those sessions. It is called Japan: New Orleans Collection Series.

Previous
Next
Previous
Next

There are eleven tunes on the CD. I don’t know which studio Haruka uses but I can tell you the recording and sound quality are first-class. You can enjoy the full tone of every instrument with great clarity.

Here are some of the highlights. On “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” we have witty, fluent double-chorus solos from Naho Ishimura, and Haruka herself, with Gerald French providing a vocal. “By and By,” which features fine playing from Haruka’s husband, Yoshitaka, is played by a quintet including both piano and organ. It begins with a slow church-style organ solo before a stomping treatment of the song.

Japan New Orleans - Japan: New Orleans Collection Series by Haruka Kikuchi
Haruka Kikuchi introduced Tomomitsu Maruyama (Banjo) of Japan to New Orleanians Mitchell Player (Bass) and Shannon Powell (Drums) for her 10th recording session session in this series.

Haruka is at her lyrical best in “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South,” which she performs with only a piano and string bass in support.

You may agree with me that the best track is “Give It Up,” which shows you need only get four great players together and magic results. Makiko Tamura is on clarinet, Molly Reeves on guitar, and Joshua Gouzy on bass. Need I say more?

Previous
Next
Previous
Next

The sextet playing “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” includes three trombones and there is no vocal. In both these respects the atmospheric interpretation, with liberal use of trombone mutes, is refreshing.

You would hardly expect “The Mooche” to work well when played by a mere quartet of guitar, bass, trombone, and piano. But, with a dramatic arrangement and the trombone carrying most of the melody, Hideki Kon, Nobu Ozaki, and Haruka, joined by Larry Scala, pull it off. You would think the tune had been written for them.

Kevin Louis is on trumpet in the all-star quintet playing the “Gettysburg March,” which—delightfully and traditionally—the group runs through first in 6/8 time before breaking into a swinging 4/4. Junji Kimura shows his skills on percussion.

“Mama Inez” is the only number to feature a saxophone. Its player is Yasuki Sogabe; and very fine he is too, with piano, bass and drums providing the excellent rhythmic support this song requires.

Previous
Next
Previous
Next

It was brave for a quartet to undertake “High Society.” But with Kensuke Shintani on clarinet, Haruka knew it would sparkle. David Boeddinghaus on piano and Tom Saunders on tuba give just the right support.

“Lonesome Road” features the banjo-player Tomomitsu Maruyama, whose work we have admired in YouTube videos from Tokyo. They take it at a gentle tempo in the key of F, with Tomomitsu also offering the vocal.

The final number, “My Indian Red,” features a seven-piece group, remarkably plunging four Japanese musicians into a piece of Louisiana culture. Quite an achievement! My guess is that Haruka is specially proud of that.

I strongly recommend this unique anthology.

CD: www.louisianamusicfactory.com

More on Haruka Kikuchi

Shake em Up Jazz Band

Report From Jazz Fest

It is often said that “getting there is half the fun,” but when it comes to the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I’ll

Read More »
Haruka by Atsumi Takemoto 2017 08 17 768x511 - Haruka Kikuchi Discography

Haruka Kikuchi Discography

Tailgate trombonist Haruka Kikuchi moved from Japan to New Orleans in 2014 and quickly found herself welcome in both traditional jazz circles and on the

Read More »

You are Logged in.

If you still can't see this article a "hard refresh" will fix the issue.

hard-refresh-browser

On phones a "Pull Down" motion may work. If all else fails you can open this article in another browser or a incognito/private browsing window. Your access to the the rest of the website is not affected, only to this one article, and only as long as it is cached on your device.

Or look at our Subscription Options.
Enable Notifications.    Ok No thanks