Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra
at Kichijoji StarPineCafe(13th Feb '02)



渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ 渋さ知らズ


Something Wicked This Way Came.


Believe in the supernatural. To be sure, this questionable realm of ghosts and goblins is weighed down heavily by bogus stories and old wive's tales. However, when it comes to the ideas of intangible forces and unseen spirits, I am slowly becoming a believer. And I hold Shibusa Shirazu completely responsible. Do I speak of the occult, the X-files or of black robes and muttered incantations? Hardly. I speak of the Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra, the Japanese jazz-jam-colossus that descended upon Kichijoji last week and completely altered the space-time continuum of the Star Pines Cafe for the evening.


To call Shibusa Shirazu a jazz band is to call Leonardo DaVinci a sketch artist. Sure, the moniker fits, but it is only the beginning. Their style and sound does not file away easily in today's pigeonholes, no stodgy, categorical terminology encompassing it. While their music is based on the improvisational principles of jazz, it takes very little time to see and hear that it is much more. Shibusa Shirazu are a musical orgy, where gypsy melodies, world-music rhythms, ska beats and heavy-metal revelry all lie down together in one glorious, sweaty heap.


Adding to the melee' are go-go girls, aspiring thespians and ghostly nude dancers. Whether they are center stage or weaving through the crowd, they help the spirit of the music become flesh. The overall effect was utter haywire on my mind. Nevertheless, I just couldn't wipe the grin off my face as my eyes, ears, mind, body and soul were lovingly assaulted by the thirty-plus performers.


S.S. are doppelgangers, their size and shape shifting with each new gig. This week's show had over twenty-five musicians, including their three core percussionists. Their squadron of saxophones was seven strong, with the brass ranks filled with a coronet, tuba and three trombones. There were four electric-guitars on hand and two sets of hands on the keyboards. Two vocalists were backed up by the flautist, who belted out her siren call more than once. Add and accordion and electric violin to the mix and you start to get the idea of how much dust this troupe can stir up.


And stir it up they did. The Star Pine's underground-saloon arrangement was in many ways an ideal venue for these noise nihilists. By walking downstairs from the street, I arrived on the second floor balcony. From here I had a perfect view of the musicians below? a rarity. Over half of the 7 or 8 shows I have witnessed have been mobbed with fans who at some venues (like Buddy's in Ekota) have literally hung from the rafters to see them. However, this two-floor, underground roadhouse offered enough space to dance and gaze upon the pandemonium.


Their first number began somewhere between a New Orleans funeral march and a Russian military anthem. Slowly, they came out of the droll into light, rain-like guitar picking and a bass clarinet solo. It wasn't long before they were deep into "Hyottoko", the first track off their new CD. "Hyottoko" ("Fire-man" in English) is a scorcher, and is regularly an opener they choose to get the blood well on its way to boil. A tumultuous mix of frenzied coronet and sax solos Eastern European-influenced refrains, it sounds like the work of an Romanian barmitzva band after a few bottles of vodka.

Go-go dancers extraordinaire Sayaka and Pero then strut to the front of the stage and mark time seductively, their taut and limber frames swaying to the beat. They have chosen and blue as their hair color this evening, the long luminous locks of their wigs brushing against their ivory necks as they shake and jiggle in a synchronized tease.


The paranormal quota is then met as the buto dancers take to the stage and crowd. Started as an avante-garde dance form in post WW2 Japan, Buto is performed in the semi-nude, the body is covered in white-powder The dancer's movements are tense, unpredictable and often contorted. It is a way for the body to express itself, not the mind. On this particular evening, these pale bodies began expressing themselves not only in thongs and white powder-paint, but with the addition of motorcycle helmets, superman capes and ski-wear. As they slowly twisted their way through the crowd, the saxes took solo turns fueling the fire that was building in the place.


From here, the bass and percussion laid down some gritty funk, setting up the tuba for a solo. Here is one of the places where S.S. stand nearly alone in the Japanese circuit. Everyone solos at least once in the 3 hour-plus performance. Although there is a steady supply of improvisation from their big guns in the sax and guitar department, all those willing to stick their neck out get a shot. Where else would you have a tuba/jazz solo back-to-back with a screeching heavy-metal tirade?


The styles shift constantly and effortlessly, due in no small part to the conductor, Fuwa Daisuke. Fuwa is the witch-doctor here, who pulls his twenty-odd jazz-talismans together to create true magic. It is with a mere gesture or hand signal that this tune-happy sorcerer is able to draw out the joy and fury from his participants. Yet, through all this theatrical fervor, all the musicians ?including Fuwa himself ?seem carefree, completely relaxed and unconcerned about where the music will go next. They laugh and joke as their neighbor pumps out their solo with furrowed brows of concentration. Overall, Shibusa Shirazu and their music aren't about pompous integrity, spirituality and self-importance. They are about fun, and they have a lot of it.


And the fun is infectious. People soon can't help but dance or hop around. Whether it's the Ska-laced jump of the tune "Mucho Shyogo" or the Fiddler-on-the-roof-on-crack approach of "Senzu", it becomes nearly impossible to remain motionless. Or silent for that matter. S.S. use the voice of the audience as an instrument of the band, as well. Fuwa and crew encourage participation in their very interactive show.


This was an ideal performance, where everyone had a chance to display their talents. From keyboard grooves to electric violin to operatic voices, the Orchestra laid out their music like an ornate tapestry, blanketing the entire club with every performers unique gifts. Fuwa sews them together, deftly passing the needle onto each new soloist, whereby they thread their own way through the music. The result makes each track fresh different and sometimes unrecognizable from the last time they played it.


And that is what makes a great, new show, every time. What could be more magic than that? With all of the amazing performances ?both musically and theatrically- it's no wonder these guys have acquired such a huge following. These fans have elevated S.S. into an almost cult-like position, but cult is not the right word. Shibusa Shirazu is a MOVEMENT. A movement that absorbs every musical style it comes in contact with while still embracing its Japanese identity.


Their performances may seem like they dwell in the paranormal realm, but they are very real. Make sure you see them before Scully, Mulder, or E.T. himself sweeps them up for their own amusement.



*This is the latest album of Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra "Shibu Hata"(B21F Chitei Records)

report by jason and photo by nishka

butonmag files :

buttonphoto report (02/06 @ Glastonbury Festival, Pilton) : photo by hanasan
buttonphoto report (02/05/26 @ Yokohama Jazz Promenade) : photo by nishioka
buttonphoto report (02/05/11 @ Shibuya On Air East) : photo by nishioka
buttonSomething Wicked This Way Came (02/02/13 @ Kichijoji Star Pine's Cafe) : review by jinki, photo by nishioka
buttonphoto report (02/02/13 @ Kichijoji Star Pine's Cafe) : photo by nishioka
buttonめちゃめちゃの、わやくちゃでんな! (01/01/11 @ Shibuya WOMB) : review by hanasan, photo by nishioka

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Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra


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Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra


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Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra



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無断転載を禁じます。The copyright of the text belongs to Jason Jenkins and the saem of the photos belongs
to Hiroki Nishioka. They may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever.

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