Danny Barker, Uncle Lionel Batiste, Tuba Fats Anthony Lacen, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty, Ms. Germaine Bazzle… Kermit Ruffins’ bravado is a tribute to the musicians who shaped the trumpeter’s BBQ-swingin’ style. What is often overlooked in modern jazz and the eternal quest for originality is that the practice of mastering the traditions of one’s own influences is what ultimately advances the craft. And following in his footsteps is trombonist Haruka Kikuchi, formerly of Tokyo and now she’s so New Orleans.
The history of foreign influences on American music is the fundamental quality of its evolution. From the slaves and immigrants, the classical European traditions, the Caribbean rhythms, gospel bluegrass, the post-war Parisian influence, the British Invasion, disco, Anarchy in the U.K., Hip Hop, Third Wave Ska, big beat EDM, Tejano, to whatever next comes back at us. The development of American music relies on foreigners to study it and then show us how the music is really meant to be played. It is a welcomed practice and a tradition of American music that shall not be lost to bigotry. Plus, whatever has been going on in Japan during the past twenty years has produced plenty of jazz and blues nekos who can really play. More please!
I am excited to transcribe more solos by Haruka Kikuchi, and I realized that there is a deficiency in my library of solos based on Rhythm Changes, such as this one. In it, she appears to utilize one of the form’s “tricks” of using melodic patterns based around the Fmaj7-Gm7 relationship. It works. And during the bridge, the use of chromatic passing tones adds a bluesy grit to the music. While not a technically challenging solo, the subtle expressiveness of its melodies is often difficult to replicate.
Here is YouTube video of Haruka Kikuchi playing “Hold That Tiger” with Kermit Ruffins.
Recommended reading: How to Make It in the New Music Business by Ari Herstand. Published by Liveright Publishing.