36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

Pre-Cambria Clarinet Quartet


Kazuto Shimizu - bcl , p, keyb
Kazutoki Umezu - bcl ,cl, sax
Yoko Tada - cl , bcl ,sax
Tatsuo Kondo - cl, bcl , keyb

Japanese keep fascinating Vilnius Jazz audiences with their imagination.

It is the only Quartet on the Festival’s stage that is made of clarinets. The Quartet’s leader Kazuto Shimizu and Tatsuo Kondo usually present themselves as keyboardists and composers, while Kazutoki Umezu and Yoko Tada play saxophones.

However, this time the musicians focus on a transformation of traditional string quartet. Several years ago Kazuto Shimizu formed this group for performance of his compositions for clarinet quartet. Since then range of their music has expanded to include pieces by other members, adaptations and extended collective improvisation.

Pre-Cambria Clarinet Quartet’ music proceeds in an academic vein up to the point when the musicians burst out with their spontaneous passages. That is a changing soundscape, which is fostered by all four members. Thus it is not surprising, that the leader came up with such a strange name for the group – it relates to his interest in palaeontology and refers to the period preceding the great diversification of species that occurred on Earth.

Kazuto Shimizu is known as a madcap keyboardist of Japanese group Hikashu. Two years ago this group has appeared in Vilnius Jazz, however without Kazuto Shimizu.

In addition, the musician pays keyboards in Shakushain, one of the most popular Japanese jazz bands formed by Kazutoki Umezu. He is a member of Killing Time, Kipana, Kiyohiko Senba’s Haniwa-chan, Arepos, Gilgongo, collaborates with rock, pop musicians, dancers and representatives of other art fields.

Yet it as a composer that Kazuto Shimizu has earned the highest recognition. He writes and arranges music for theatre, film and TV dramas and commercials.

Kazutoki Umezu is perhaps the most influential personality in this group. It would be difficult to find such a versatile, creative and active improviser not only in Japan but also other continents. He has visited Vilnius Jazz three times playing with different partners.

The scope of his ventures is best revealed in Ohshigoto – a session of consecutive live shows, organised in Japan for many years by Kazutoki Umezu, in which over the period of 20 days he plays everyday with different formations.

While in New York, he found his way into the world of performers of avant-garde and exotic ethnic music, rockers and esoteric aces. He plays blues, rumba, traditional Japanese and Korean shamanic music; experiments with dancers. Kazutoki Umezu pioneered Klezmer music in Japan.

In New York he began playing with avant-garde megastars like Sunny Murray, Oliver Lake, Lester Bowie, William Parker, John Zorn, Tom Cora, Peter Brötzmann, Marc Ribot, Wayne Horvitz, Ned Rothenberg and Rashid Ali to name but a few, and also the pleyade of the legends of the mainstream jazz.

Kazutoki Umezu collaborated with the legendary Japanese jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita, multiinstrumentalist Otomo Yoshihide, Taiko drummer Leonard Eto, musicians from Korea, Africa and Near East.

Seikatsu Kojou Iinaki (collective formed while still in student years), Doctor Umezu Band (was active for almost ten years), Betsuni Nanmo Klezmer (first Klezmer music group in Japan), Shakushain, KiKi Band (appeared in Vilnius) music will make a significant imprint in the history of Japanese improvised music.

Kazutoki Umezu has conquered the world due to his unlimited imagination, freedom of thought and sense of humour. He is considered to be the descendant of the vibrant Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Eric Dolphy, but on the other hand to determine the full spectrum of his influences would be rather difficult.

Saxophonist and clarinettist Yoko Tada has started her career by playing in Kazutoki Umezu Orchestra Betsuni Nanmo Klezmer; she is also a member of his Komatcha Klezmer.

The field of her interests is unlimited, as is of the other Quartet members. She leads her own collectives Okidoki and Petit Daon, plays in several Japanese pop-and-Balkan music groups, takes part in street actions, and collaborates with theatre and dance projects.

Besides playing in Pre-Cambria Clarinet Quartet Tatsuo Kondo works with Lovejoy, Chakra, Unita Mimima and Mihashi Mikako & Sohonzan, collaborates with Ogawa Mishio, Phew, Hara Masumi, Otomo Yoshihide, Sugibayashi Yasuo and other renowned musicians.

He composes and arranges for theatre, film and TV. 

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