By Kazutoki Umezu
I like the instrument called the bass clarinet. There's a kind of foolishness to the sound, but there's that warmth to it as well. When I play it soft, there's a deepness like the cello, and if I blow it hard, the sound is like a wild roar, that all the dogs in the neighborhood howl back to in response. I challenged over and over again to master this instrument and this brought me to the entrance of my life of jazz. This was two years before I first took the saxophone in my hands. Now, thirty-four years later, it's an emotional moment (it's a great feeling) that I can release a solo album with this instrument. I still can't say that I've mastered it, but at least I've explored its possibilities the best I can. No doubt, there have been influences from the didgeridoo of the Aboriginies and the Mukkuri of the Ainu people. And it's my hope that I can come close to the masters of jazz, such as Eric Dolphy, a pioneer of this instrument, and Rasaan Roland Kirk, the doyen of circular breathing. Though of course, this is still in the distant future.
(Translated by Mari Nabeshima)