Improvised Music from Japan / Otomo Yoshihide / Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Orchestra


Alfred Harth (tenor sax, bass clarinet)
Kenta Tsugami (alto sax, soprano sax)
Hiroaki Mizutani (contrabass)
Yasuhiro Yoshigaki (drums, trumpet)
Kumiko Takara: vibraphone
Sachiko M (sinewaves)
Kahimi Karie (vocal)
Otomo Yoshihide (conductor, guitar, electronics)

In 1999 the recording of Otomo Yoshihide Plays the Music of Takeo Yamashita gave Otomo the opportunity to form a group with four leading figures in the Japanese jazz world--Naruyoshi Kikuchi, Kenta Tsugami, Hiroaki Mizutani, and Yasuhiro Yoshigaki--as a way of coming face to face with jazz, which is one of his musical roots. Along with projects like Filament and Anode, the quintet became one of Otomo's main projects and an essential aspect of his work. In a major departure from his earlier image, he plays the guitar almost exclusively in ONJQ. In 2001, after recording several tracks that were included in the soundtrack album of the film Shabondama Elegy, the band released their first solo album, Flutter, on the American label Tzadik. Since that time, they've done numerous tours in Japan, America, Europe, and China, and put out five full-length albums. On the discs Live (2002) and ONJQ + OE (2003)--their collaboration with DJ OE--they established a style that might be called onkyo jazz. Since Kikuchi left the group in February of 2004, Otomo has brought in new members--multi-reed player Alfred Harth, who currently lives in South Korea, Kumiko Takara, and Sachiko M. Vocalist Kahimi Karie became a member in 2005. In addition, Otomo has invited artists like Ko Ishikawa, Taisei Aoki, Masahiko Okura, Taku Unami, Mats Gustafsson, Axel Doerner, and Cor Fuhler as irregular members; and Mariko Hamada, Phew, and Jun Togawa, among others, as guest vocalists. Moving back and forth between the septet and orchestra formats, he is exploring the possibilities of the post-onkyo improvisational ensemble. Since mid-2005 the band, cosisting of about ten musicians, has been active under the name New Jazz Orchestra (ONJO). In 2005 ONJO released two albums: ONJO featuring vocalists Kahimi Karie and Mariko Hamada, and Out to Lunch, which includes covers of all of the tunes recorded on Eric Dolphy's free jazz classic Out to Lunch.

Last updated: February 15, 2006