This Japanese vocalist and artist, Koichi Makigami is celebrating his unique and eclectic as well as eccentric displays his work during the week at the Stone Club in New York.
Makigami will usually play with some old band members or some newer ones and gives like minded musicians an opportunity to play in his band in a different setting/area.
News from the stone Residency
Interview taken from AllAboutJazz: By Eyal Hareuveni
Koichi Makigami: It was about a year ago. John Zorn offered me the idea and I took it. Actually, it’s the second time for me. In 2006, I did the residency week at the same venue and it was the first time that my band Hikashu ever played in
New York, but not in a full line-up. We did it as a quartet because the pianist, Shimizu Kazuto, couldn’t make it.
So Zorn gave you plenty of time to think about the line-up?
KM: Yes. Actually, it took time. It was very hard for me to decide, a different line-up for each set, two sets a day for a week. And it all had to be different. Never the same.
KM: It’s ok for me to perform every night. I used to be a stage actor, and that’s an ordinary thing in theatre. Of course, performing improvised music every night with different line ups is another thing. But I don’t worry too much. It’s going to be OK.
You’re collaborating with percussionist Kevin Norton for a first time.
KM: I’ve never played with him. Why I chose him? Because I’ve seen him playing and was interested. His main instrument is vibraphone, but he also plays drums. I let him decide which one to play. Actually, there are many musicians I wanted to book, but to no avail. A lot of people already had other obligations, like trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith.
The Hikashu set will feature two guests, guitarist Mark Ribot, plus sax and shakuhachi player Ned Rothenberg.
KM: Mark came to see our gig with drummer Joey Baron when we played in New York City last May (2013). Actually, we wanted him for our performance in the Fuji Rock Festival this year. Unfortunately, he didn’t take the offer because he had other obligations. Ned said that he’s always positive about playing with us.
You’ve played with percussionist Cyro Baptista many times before. It seems you and he are on the same wavelength.
KM: Probably. He thinks that we’re on the same wavelength too. He contacts me every time he comes to Japan, just asking me about playing together.
How about trumpeter Peter Evans? You’ve rarely played with trumpeters in a duo.
KM: We have been exchanging e-mails, because he wants to come to Japan. Actually he comes to Japan next year. I’m sure it turns out to be great. He’s full of energy. His sound is incredible.
How about the Koroshi No Blues set? Will it be the same music from your solo, Zorn produced album (Toshiba EMI, 1992), that covered soundtracks from Japanese hard-boiled 1950-60s films?
KM: That’s right. I even performed this music at the Knitting Factory around the same time. We had a very good time, so it’s going to be great this time too. The Knitting Factory was a great place. That’s unforgettable.
You’re going to revisit the Tokyo Taiga album (Tzadik, 2010), with Mongolian throat-singer Bolot Baryshev and Ned Rothenberg.
KM: Actually, Ned told me he quite favored Tokyo Taiga when it was released. He even said he wanted to play with us. So naturally I asked him to perform together this time.
You saved John Zorn for Halloween night.
KM: It’s a special day, so I asked John. It’s improvisation night. Nobody knows who’s going to play because the musicians are arranged just prior to the date.
And on the last date, there’s a set by the Agra Dharma trio, with electronics player Ikue Mori and Sylvie Courvoisier. It’s been some time since you formed that trio.
KM: I was invited a musical event in Austria a few years ago and I asked them to play together. The name is a Buddhist expression, the supreme teaching in Sanskrit. I would like to do some recordings with this trio in the future.
Hikashu has been your main musical outfit since the late seventies. Why does the band enjoy such longevity?
KM: Because we think in long terms. Hikashu is very unique. There’s no other band like us in Japan. We always consider each member’s intentions. Anybody can quit whenever they want. We don’t force anything on anybody. We are very loosely connected and very relaxed, not so serious. We are natural and reasonable.
Humor is evident in Hikashu’s music. How important is humor in your band?
KM: We never try to be humorous. That’s not the way. It’s natural thing, not intentional. If we lead a humorous daily life, naturally our music will reflect that.
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