Improvised Music from Japan / Shibusashirazu Orchestra

European Tour May-June '98


by Teruto Soejima

SHIBUSASHIRAZU is a new kind of Japanese jazz orchestra. Loosely translated, SHIBUSASHIRAZU means "never be cool." In keeping with the name, the sound of the orchestra is hot and exciting, with elements from genres as diverse as free jazz, funk jazz, the popular music style "enka," and traditional Japanese music.

The musicians range from newcomers in their twenties to veterans in their fifties, and come from widely diverse musical fields--free jazz, punk rock, noise music, improvised music, traditional Japanese music, etc. About half of them lead their own small groups.

In addition to musicians, SHIBUSASHIRAZU includes a number of Butoh dancers--some of whom are principal dancers in the famed Butoh group Dairakudakan--as well as actors from underground theater. Thus, the orchestra brings together contemporary artists from several different fields.

All of SHIBUSASHIRAZU's performances are inter-media collaborations. Under the supervision of leader Daisuke Fuwa, dancers and actors improvise around the central axis of the orchestra.

SHIBUSASHIRAZU was formed in 1989, originally to play theater music. About two years later, the orchestra for the first time performed at a well known jazz club, and appeared in a major Japanese jazz festival. Today they are one of the most popular bands on the Japanese jazz scene.

Leader Daisuke Fuwa also has his own trio, "Fedayen." Fuwa received the Grand Prix '90 from Music Magazine for the trio's CD "First," and Swing Journal magazine's prize for Up-and-Coming Musician '93. In addition, the trio played in the feature film "Endless Waltz" (the life story of free jazz alto sax player Kaoru Abe, who died in 1978 at the age of 29).

The trio played at the Moers International New Jazz Festival in '96, and toured Russia in '97. This is SHIBUSASHIRAZU's first European appearance.

Last updated: May 22, 1998