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Friday, Nov. 25, 2005



The KO Project

When musicians are unrestricted by conventions, many often fall into the repetitive, self-absorbed patterns of "free jazz" that make would be jazz fans wince. Pianist Masabumi Kikuchi and saxophonist Greg Osby are two rare exceptions.

Over the last decade, Kikuchi has racked up an impressive series of releases with the finest cutting-edge musicians in Japan and New York. His conception of music is rooted in jazz but consistently pushes to the outer edges of what improvised performance can be. Whether taking on music from Edith Piaf or Tosca with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian, or jazz standards with percussionist Masahiko Togashi or pianist Takeshi Shibuya, Kikuchi improvises in the freest and fullest sense of that term.

Most recently, Kikuchi teamed up with Osby to record "Beyond All" as The KO Project. The album title suits well their uncompromising approach to soloing as Osby himself has always explored wide-open territory (see Osby's "Channel Three" release from earlier this year).

While these two were made to play together, they don't always "play together." As often as not on "Beyond All," their angular lines and dissonant responses move across, apart and around each other, to create meditative and deeply inspired music. The dynamic tension comes from some deeper, more unconscious space to create a musical conversation that is as fascinating as it is challenging.

The KO Project with Masabumi Kikuchi on piano and Greg Osby on saxophone will play: Dec. 8 in Okayama at Okayama Museum Hall; Dec. 9 in Kobe at Creole; Dec. 12 in Osaka at Bridge; Dec. 13 in Shizuoka at Aoshima Hall; Dec. 14 in Mito at Girl Talk; Dec. 16 in Tokyo at Hamarikyu Asahi Hall(Small Hall); for info on all shows call 55 Records at (03) 5785-2357.

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