There’s free jazz, and then there’s experimental jazz. Sand Storm from Kaze and Ikue Mori is definitely in the latter group. Free jazz is about an explosion of ideas and feelings, chaos with an underlying structure that reveals this sort of pure creativity as a somewhat violent epiphany. Experimental jazz belongs to a broader definition of sound, of finding and extracting unique voices from an instrument or something out there operating freely in the physical world. Free jazz is about unleashing beasts, about exposing something from deep inside us. Experimental jazz is about finding something else, outside of the performer, that no one has seen or heard before.
Kaze is a “cooperative quartet,” comprised of two trumpeters (Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost) and a drummer (Peter Orins) led by pianist/composer Satoko Fujii. They’ve been exploring the experimental realm together for a decade and decided to make room for Ikue Mori, who is known as a “laptop wizard” and is credited on Sand Storm with “electronics.” There’s a reviewer’s quote on the press release that states “if you think you can imagine what piano, drums and two trumpets will sound like, think again.”
That’s Sand Storm in a nutshell–beautiful and strange sounds from Kaze and Ikue Mori that eventually come into focus. Oh, that’s coming from a trumpet. Oh, there’s someone thumping on the soundboard of a piano. That’s percussion. But that other sound? I have no idea what that is. (It’s Mori, probably, but maybe it’s not.)
What’s the real reason for listening to Kaze and Ikue Mori and their strange catalog of sounds? You might ask, “Is this real music?” That, of course, is the genius you’ll find in Sand Storm–it is music, clearly so, and it reveals the true spirit of jazz in the way the ideas and themes slowly emerge from that odd sonic landscape. I’ve listened to many of these recordings over the years, and sometimes they’re cool just for the exotic sounds, but often these compositions devolve into novelty. Sand Storm, however, is so intriguing that you’ll listen to it as music, not noise, and you’ll start to think about the relationship between music and sound and then your mind will wander and make new synaptic connections and the next thing you know you’ll be hooked–just as I am.