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Jazz Japan Vol.78

Moon In Paris/FUKUMI

by Nobumasa Takai

Talented Beauty releases 3rd vocal album; A robust collaboration with New York’s best straight-ahead players

Jazz singer Fukumi's latest release is a robust collaboration with New York's best straight-ahead players. This is her third album, and latest project since 2006. Her recording in New York was once again accompanied by pianist David Hazeltine. This time Hazeltine and his piano trio included Eric Alexander on tenor sax and Behn Gillece on vibraphone.

Most of the selections are from movies and pop hits of the 60s and 70s, excluding track 1 which is a swingy jazz number. Anyone from her generation will surely recognize these popular vocal standards.

Her vocals have a tasteful classiness, always retaining a level of coolness, and yet have a powerful undertone without the need to belt. She seems to be suited for laid back tunes with comfortable tempos like those in this album, rather than swingy up-tempo pieces. These traits are apparent in the stylish performances of these famous numbers. The ensemble backs her up well, never outshining the vocals.

(Translated by May Motoyama)

Jazz Life, February 2017

Moon In Paris/FUKUMI

by Tatsuya Nagato

The liquid quality in her voice is pleasantly reminiscent of an exquisite cello bow stroke. This album, recorded in New York, features her sensitive line, jazzy rhythm and stunning scat vocals. She has reimagined these famous songs with subtle placement of bends and afterbeats while retaining a certain honesty.

Equally, the band deserves credit for its cool jazzmen temperament and improvisational instincts (arrangements were done by Hazeltine). Both parts have been packed and merged into this album, giving a refreshing look into the possibilities of vocal jazz. It is a comfortable and relaxing swing recording.

(Translated by May Motoyama)

Liner note for her album"Silly Habits"

by Masamichi Okazaki

On FUKUMI’s debut album you will hear a wide gamut of her natural expressive vocals. Her vocals express the aesthetics of melody and the lyrics are affectionate and unique. Not being absorbed in technique, she puts feelings into songs spontaneously, and so I have a positive impression of this yielding mind.

The whole point about jazz vocals is that each singer performs a piece with his or her own story, in his or her own singing style. In any song, and especially excellent pieces of music, it has an underlying story in the background. And the story is expressed and sung by singers who have a life experience and creative imagination. Therefore, the image of the song becomes even greater in proportion when the listener’s imagination and the song overlap each other. This stylish mood and enjoyment that can only be found in jazz vocals can be found on FUKUMI’s debut album. Selected songs in this album represent her repertoires from her debut as a singer. In short, this is a collection of her favorite and most memorable songs. This album demonstrates those concepts directly and performs anecdotes of each song by a slightly natural narrative style.

FUKUMI was born in Aichi prefecture, went to high school in Nagoya where she took a music course, and she majored in piano at Musashino Academia Musicae. Around that time, she had got close to jazz and participated in a Modern Jazz workshop at Waseda University and performed on stage. She sang at Jazz spots in Tokyo, visited the United States for voice lessons several times and got into deep conversations with American artists at the time, and all that led to her debut. The great force of her debut is the presence of a pianist and vocalist, Rick DellaRatta. (Her duet of “Candy” with his vocal is on this album.) DellaRatta is a representative of Stella Records. He signed a production deal with Stella Records, and FUKUMI was the first artist to be selected. DellaRatta is the representative artist of Stella Records and released five albums, such as “Live in Brazil & the Blue Note”. Due to the success it reached, he signed a production deal with Stella Records again, and FUKUMI was the first artist to be selected.

It begins with a beautiful verse of “Violets For Your Furs”. Each phrase of this his romantic song, written by FUKUMI’s favorite artist Matt Denis, is sung gently. This is a sweet love song starting with the phrase “I bought you a violet for your furs and it was spring for a while…” This original lyric is “I bought You violets for Your furs”, but it changes to “You brought Me violets for My furs” when a female singer performs it. Billie Holiday and Shirley Horn performed it in a similar, although noble style. Contrary to that, FUKUMI’s affectionate voice On “I Fall in Love Too Easily” with only a piano accompaniment, I can see she has put emphasis on the feeling of the song. Simultaneously, she sings an up-tempo song “I Get a Kick Out of You” and a Bossa Nova song “How Insensitive.” Then comes “Silly Habits” from Janis Ian’s album in 1978. The wide range of songs is also attractive. Only Mel Torme sang “Silly Habits”. Few jazz singers would select this song. All “FUKUMI’s favorite songs are engaging. This is why this can be called her “self-introduction” album. DellaRatta, Harvie Swartz, Victor Jones, and many other top players are supporting her.

Swing Journal(October.2003 issue)

interviewed&written by Hiroki Sugita

I fell in love with jazz because it is a great portrayal of myself.

FUKUMI started learning piano and singing when she was 4 years old. Singing along with Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra records at home in her junior high school years, she naturally got close to jazz. She majored in piano at Musashino Academia Musicae and belonged to a Modern Jazz workshop at Waseda University at the same time. She sang standard numbers, and started appearing on stage.

"I was playing classical piano up till my high school years, but I could not enjoy playing since studying was my first priority. Singing is a fun and honest portrayal of myself so I fell in love with jazz."

Studying jazz vocals under Takako Ueno for two years, FUKUMI learned the importance of communication with other musicians. While she was persevering in her voice training in New York, she met pianist Rick DellaRatta and had deep discussions with him. This led to the production of a debut album under his supervision. The album, set for release in the United States first, is now available in Japan. The title has the name of Janis Ian's number, "Silly Habits", (original title: Let Me Introduce Myself).

"Rick signed a production deal with Stella Records, and he chose to produce my album as the first release. As I was co-staring with top jazzmen in N.Y., as the concept, Rick chose musicians and I sent my demo tapes, and faced up to the recordings. I selected songs that I remembered from when I first started and copied singing just because this was my first album."

DellaRatta, receiving many awards as a vocalist and a composer, is a highly-appraised musician in the United States. Along with bassist Harbie S., who has played with Sheila Jordan (vo.), and drummer Victor Jones, he is assisting FUKUMI's recent entry into jazz. Her favorite song, "I Get A Kick Out Of You", has a strong authentic appearance and her matured vocal talent has a great impact.

From October she will be the host of a new program at FMPORT in Niigata. With her debut album as a start, her future bears great expectations.