Japanese Garden

RIP Masabumi Kikuchi, one of the most idiosyncratic jazz pianists.

When young, Masabumi mastered the modal language and played it with Elvin Jones. A little later he did electric funk with Gil Evans and Miles Davis. He studied composition with Gil, transcribed Alban Berg, hung out with Toru Takemitsu. Eventually, to engage with the Paul Bley tradition, he hired Gary Peacock and Paul Motian. This was the final term paper, for from about the mid-’90s on Masabumi sounded like nobody but himself.

Masabumi was a troubled, combative personality. A real old-school egotistical 20th-century artist of the highest order. His best music has extraordinary vulnerability and corresponding extraordinary magic.

After his champion Paul Motian died it was only a matter of time before Masabumi left as well.

Sitting and listening to Masabumi improvise in his chaotic apartment where the only working item seemed to be a perfectly tuned and maintained concert Steinway will always be a treasured memory.

DTM: Interview with Masabumi Kikuchi.

Update: Jacob Sacks on Masabumi.