Ryo Kawasaki & Level 8: a meeting between the past and present - Festival Jazzkaar

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03/03/2017 Ryo Kawasaki & Level 8: a meeting between the past and present

Reviews Ines Margato

Once again the Kumu auditorium hosted a surprising jazz fusion with a mixture of international talents from Estonia, Japan and Brazil. Tonight, in the black room, Ryo Kawasaki, a lyrical electrical guitar master, played with three excellent Estonian musicians, resulting in a diverse set of originals, rhythms and sounds.


Ryo Kawasaki was born in Tokyo (Japan) 70 years ago and celebrates an extensive musical career with 28 solo albums and participating in more than 30 additional albums.  In the 60’s, while in Japan,


Kawasaki played in a variety of jazz groups, recording his first album when he was 22 years of age. In early 70’s, he moved to New York (USA) jamming regularly in the jazz community scene, with the notables Gil Evans, Elvin Jones, Chico Hamilton. Also, he developed his interests in music digitalization and techno dance music. Since 2000, Kawasaki moved to Estonia, being involved in different projects as a guitarist, composer and music director.


Ryo Kawasaki and Level 8 shared originals written during almost 50 years of Kawasaki’s career. A travel between the present and the past, where the human body gets younger and younger with each accord, tone and rhythm. The concert started with a recently produced song ‘Morning Light’. Kollom’s drums warmed up the public with fervent rhythms and Kawasaki joined him with urban complex guitar lines. The instrumentals went through the afternoon…


Among the older songs, we listened to ‘Sometimes’ (1977), ‘Reasons’ (1976), ‘Agana’ (1976), flying from a funky track to a smooth seductive tone passing through the rock. The band exposed a variety of emotional reactions and facial expressions.


While playing, Kawasaki is like a chameleon, changing tones, manipulations sounds from an electric to an acoustic guitar. The young Estonian trio revealed richness, high standards and very good technical level. The ensemble had good chemistry and musical balance.


As special guests, Denise Fontoura (vocals) and Lisa Kawasaki (flute) joined the group for ‘Morning of Carnaval’ (‘Manhã de Carnaval’ of Luiz Bonfá and António Maria, 1959) and for ‘Thinkers and Trinkers’ (1978). Both artists come on stage with a big smile and the curiosity was high. However, for me, it was not possible to understand the Portuguese lyrics clearly and Lisa’s flute was shy and often not audible.


Nevertheless, Kawasaki fits perfectly his musical creations and seeing him playing with Estonian musicians is absolutely superb and unforgettable.


Ryo Kawasaki & Level 8

Saturday 25th February 2017, 4pm at the Kumu Art Museum Auditorium

Ryo Kawasaki (guitar), Raun Juurikas (keyboard), Kaarel Liiv (bass), Eno Kollom (drums), Denise Fontoura (vocals), Lisa Kawasaki (flute)


Check the photos here.