Happy Fire Review on Intoxicate Magazine

“Happy Fire – New Kind Of Jazz” by Hiro Honshuku’s Racha Fora
The circle of Russell – Miles – Honshuku
intoxicate 2017 October

Led by Hiro Honshuku who is a resident of Boston, a NYC based band “Racha Fora” released their 3rd album, which is a second Japanese release preceded by “Racha S’Miles”. It opens with Miles Davis’ “Nardis”, an aggressive arrangement and A powerful performance. It is followed by Jazz standards such as “All The Things You Are” and “In A Sentimental Mood”. Honshuku’s original, the title song, “Happy Fire” showcases his unique music style.

Racha Fora is a unique 2+2 format, 2 front lines are formed by Honshuku on flute/EWI and Rika Ikeda on violin, and the second line , the rhythm section is formed by Andre Vasconcelos on guitar and Sebastian “Cbass” Chiriboga or Harvey Wirht on cajon and percussion. There is no bass player nor drummer. The continuously driving cajon and percussion produce varieties of Brazilian rhythms. When the guitar that suggests Miles’ Agharta era faces Honshuku’s and Ikeda’s front line, a surreal sound image is produced and gives a totally new sound to the familiar standard songs. A beautiful sound of “Nem Um Talvez” composed by Hermeto Pascoal on track 9 seems to be the key to this album. Hermeto joined Miles’ “Live-Evil” (1970) and wrote this piece as well as “Little Church” for Miles. A box set of this session was released later and 4 more tracks by Hermeto were released. Honshuku has published an insightful analysis of this piece (www.jazztokyo.org). It shows Honshuku’s, as a performer as well as a scholar, deep understanding of and love for the genius Hermeto who does not belong to any genre. The article is well beyond an ordinal jazz study article.

When Honshuku was enrolled to New England Conservatory of Music, he became an assistant to George Russell. Later he became an assistant director as well as a member of Russell’s Living Time Orchestra. Honshuku is probably the one and only Japanese artist who practices Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept in the real world. Racha Fora successfully blends abstract elements of Brazilian rhythms and Russell, Miles, Hermeto and Dave Liebman.

This album is a full of excitement and discovery of new sound. Racha Fora gave an amazing show on Tokyo Jazz Festival in 2015. We all look for their 2017 tour with the recording members this October.