Eric Schaefer has been described as the “central shining star of the German jazz scene” by the prestigious weekly Die Zeit, while the Munich broadsheet Süddeutsche Zeitung has referred to the “wide-ranging inspiration that he brings to the jazz world.” In “Kyoto Mon Amour” the drummer/composer takes on the challenge of building bridges between Japanese and western music.
“The music, philosophy, religion and culture of Asia have fascinated me for a long time”, Schaefer explains. During the past fourteen years he has made three visits to Korea, and stayed in Japan no fewer than six times. “I find myself longing for Asia, it has left its mark on my life.” Schaefer practices Zen, that “pathless path” of observing one's own nature in meditation. “Zen-Practice has changed my whole life. The way one handles nature, other people – and music – just becomes more discerning and sensitive.” The album “Kyoto mon Amour” bears witness to this.
The foundations for this project were laid in 2012 when Schaefer spent three months studying in Japan’s old Imperial capital city, Kyoto. He researched Kabuki and Nō theatre, listened to the ancient Gagaku imperial court music, became familiar with traditional musical instruments such as the shakuhachi (flute), shamisen and biwa (lutes), visited the temples and walked in the surrounding mountains such as Hiei-Zan with its evocative red maple leaves. He made notes of his impressions – some ideas of sounds and compositional sketches. These experiences were deepened further by meetings, for example with the Shodo (calligraphy) artist Shoshu. His art is a thoroughly appropriate adornment for the album. “That theme just wouldn’t leave me alone”, reflects Schaefer. All that remained for Schaefer to do was to bring in the right companions…..
The story of how he found them can best be explained in his own words: “When I heard Kazutoki Umezu playing in a radio broadcast, I knew that this was the sound I had been after for “Kyoto mon amour”: soft, as flexible as bamboo and yet penetratingly clear. I absolutely wanted Naoko Kikuchi on the album as well, because she has such a deep grounding in the tradition of Japanese koto; she also moved to Germany eight years ago to play European contemporary classical music with Ensemble Modern.
John Eckhardt is also at home in New Music, I already play alongside him in my band The Shredz. Through the earthiness and the variety of tonal colour in his playing, elements from chamber music, Japanese folklore and jazz all coalesce. The exciting thing about this band is the musical openness, and the fascination of how different the other culture is. "
Kazutoki Umezu / clarinet & bass clarinet
Naoko Kikuchi / koto
John Eckhardt / bass
Eric Schaefer / drums
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