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Masabumi Kikuchi (1939-2015)

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Masabumi Kikuchi (1939-2015)

Pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, one of jazz’s most original musicians, has died in New York, aged 75. Born in Tokyo, Masabumi Kikuchi, known to musicians everywhere by his nickname Poo, played with Lionel Hampton and Sonny Rollins while still a teenager, and made his recording debut in the early 1960s with Toshiko Akiyoshi and Charlie Mariano. In the 1970s he collaborated with Gil Evans and Elvin Jones and led his own groups, drawing influence from Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, as well as from Stockhausen, Ligeti and Takemitsu. Although he recorded only one studio album for ECM - “Sunrise” released in 2012 - he was an inspiration for musicians associated with the label, including Gary Peacock, Paul Motian and Thomas Morgan, admired for his rigorous individuality and his determined distance from all trends. In his last years Poo began to play a more inner-directed music, pursuing what he termed “floating sound and harmony”, and which he documented on many private recordings. “I’m more free now”, he announced at 70, “because I started believing in myself. When I sit down at the piano I do not prepare what I will play nor do I think about how to play, and I believe I found the way of putting out something new, and I guess I could call it my own”.

Photo: Arne Reimer




 
 


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