A former journalist (Fuji Television Network Japan) with childhood piano training at Juilliard Pre-College and a stint as a Gulf War reporter on her résumé (’90-’91 working in Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia), Kyoko Kitamura is an oddball vocalist, composer and bandleader who has worked with many distinguished musicians, most notably with the community of Tri-Centric musicians including Anthony Braxton and Taylor Ho Bynum.
She is a featured vocalist on Anthony Braxton‘s opera Trillium J, 12 Duets (DCWM) 2012 (duo with Anthony Braxton), Trillium E (the first-ever studio-recording of an Anthony Braxton opera), and the Syntactical GTM Choir (NYC) 2011 (all available on New Braxton House Records). Also known for her interdisciplinary projects, she released her first solo album Armadillo In Sunset Park in 2012, a collection of songs written for and choreographed by Mark Lamb Dance. She can also be heard on the critically acclaimed Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings release Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), Jamie Baum’s Solace (Sunnyside Records), and Steve Coleman’s Lucidarium (Label Bleu) among others. Upcoming 2018 releases include a quartet album with Joe Morris, Tomeka Reid and Taylor Ho Bynum, as well as a compilation of songs by William Parker.
Currently, Kitamura works with Anthony Braxton as a vocalist in his Tri-Centric Orchestra, the Director of Communications for his Tri-Centric Foundation and the director of the Tri-Centric Vocal Ensemble. She studies counterpoint and Schoenberg harmony with Paul Caputo.
As for her own current projects, she leads Tidepool Fauna (Ingrid Laubrock on sax, Ken Filiano on bass) and co-leads Armadillo In Sunset Park (collaborative project with dancers of Mark Lamb Dance). Debut album coming soon.
Kitamura has garnered critical praise for her “great vocal range, veering from wordless vocalese to near operatic feats” (AllAboutJazz) and All Music Guide describes her as “an expressive vocalist who knows how to be quirky and eccentric but is also quite musical.” Most recently, in a performance with the Anthony Braxton Trio at the Angel City Jazz Festival in L.A. (Anthony Braxton, Taylor Ho Bynum, Kyoko Kitamura), Robert Bush of AllAboutJazz wrote, “Enough cannot be said about the stunning abilities of Ms. Kitamura—she functions at the highest instrumental level and was able to deal with pages of dense notation, acrobatic intervals and intricate layering with devastating surety.”
To find out about Kitamura’s dream band, influences, desert island pick and more, visit AllAboutJazz’s Take Five With Kyoko Kitamura.