Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra – Bloom

Women have always been part of the jazz scene. They were mostly vocalists in the early days, but eventually became composers and musicians of all instruments. Mindi Abair, saxophone; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Natalie Cressman, trombone; Dida Pelled, guitar; Terri Lyne Carrington, drums; Esperanza Spalding, bass; Patrice Rushen, piano. These are just a few to show the diversity present today. Now comes Asuka Kakitani, composer, arranger and conductor of a jazz orchestra.

Bloom (Nineteen-Eight Records, 2013) by the Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra showcases the artist’s songwriting and leadership skills. She leads an 18-piece ensemble on this debut recording.

Each selection is upwards of seven minutes, giving the orchestra plenty of breathing room. “Electric Images” is one of the more ambitious pieces, mixing the near-symphonic sound of the orchestra with popular music elements. Soloists are bassist Dave Ambrosio, pianist Mike Eckroth, who plays Fender Rhodes electric piano on this selection, and guitarist Pete McCann. The 13-piece horn section – woodwinds and brass – blend and harmonize as a unit.

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