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Masayo Koketsu is a Japanese, Tokyo-based alto sax player who idolizes Charlie Parker, and feels at home when covering Björk or the Israeli songs of Avishai Cohen (the bassist) or playing with the local Shibusashirzu Orchestra. Koketsu published in 2019 an autobiographical book, «To the Depths of Sound», and «Fukiya», her second solo album (her debut, self-released one from 2021, «Tenor Saxophone in a Valley~Masayo Koketsu solo~», focused on the tenor sax, recorded in the Hossawa Falls near Tokyo) is her first one for a non-Japanese label. It emphasizes that Koketsu also feels at home with experimental, sound-oriented improvisations.

«Fukiya» was recorded at Strobo club in Tokyo in November 2021. It offers a single, 47-minute title piece comprised of a series of Sisyphosian attempts to distill her sonic vision. Koketsu moves between intense, brutal and raw wails, all stressing her deep knowledge of the free jazz legacy, including John Coltrane’s visit to Japan in 1966, the work of Japanese avant-garde pioneer, alto sax player Kaoru Abe and the influence of Peter Brötzmann as well as her impressive array of extended breathing techniques, to achingly beautiful cries. These wails and cries are punctuated by a bedrock of silences. Patiently and methodically, Koketsu articulates more melodic, openly emotional and poetic wails. Her impressive command of sustained, vibrating sounds, overtones and harmonics as well as her energy are quite singular.

«Fukiya» can be experienced as a highly personal and inquisitive journey into the sonic possibilities of the alto sax. But «Fukiya» is also a deep meditation that attempts to find an inseparable connection, pure mindfulness between a musician and his instrument and to find the right, timeless sound behind all sounds.

Eyal Hareuveni

Masayo Koketsu (as)

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