Then in March 2017 Haruka produced JAPAN: NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION SERIES Volume Two, featuring Gospel Jazz. Haruka made this recording with fellow musicians who play gospel music with her in church every Sunday morning:
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
I specially enjoyed the lusty performance of Jesus on the Main Line - a spiritual I have always liked, ever since the late great Milton Batiste introduced me to it in the 1990s.
In September 2017, Haruka added a third volume, with Shingo Kano from Osaka on piano and Grayson Brockamp on bass. The trio swings very pleasantly through When It's Sleepy Time Down South, Back Home Again in Indiana and the rarely-heard Small Fry, which Hoagy Carmichael composed for a cartoon film in 1938. To sample these tracks, CLICK HERE.
|Haruka Kikuchi -|
about to play with The Audacity Brass Band
at The French Quarter Festival, 2016
In April of the previous year, I met her for the first time - when I came across her playing with The Shotgun Jazz Band. In 2015, she was also playing regularly with Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers and with The Swamp Donkeys.Haruka toured with The Swamp Donkeys in England, Scotland, France, Holland and Spain during July and August 2015.
Since the start of 2016, she has become much more independent and freelance. She now plays from time to time with even more bands but she has also started running a band of her own. Her diary is so full: it seemed to me that she was averaging seven gigs a week - sometimes with seven different bands.
In May 2016, Haruka toured in Japan, where she was the guest star in a series of jazz concerts with Japanese bands.
Haruka grew up in Chiba - a few miles east of Tokyo - and settled happily in New Orleans at the end of 2013.
During my 2015 visit, I heard her playing a couple of times with the dynamic and energetic Shotgun Jazz Band. Haruka seemed to have become rapidly integrated into Marla Dixon's very happy Shotgun family.
|The Shotgun Jazz Band|
Haruka started learning to play the piano, violin and cornet from an early age. But when she was 15 she was bowled over by discovering the early recordings of New Orleans jazz. She decided the 'tailgate trombone' was for her, her hero being Kid Ory. She studied at Tokyo University of the Arts, graduating in 2010 with a degree in Music Science.
In 2017, Haruka joined and made a great contribution in the wonderful all-ladies Shake 'Em Up Jazz Band, which has evolved into one of the best bands in the world today. THIS VERSION (Click on) of 'Savoy Blues' may be the best you will ever hear.
At the 2016 French Quarter Festival, she even appeared with the veterans in an old-style New Orleans Brass Band. I did my best (despite difficult filming conditions) to make a video of them playing Bugle Boy March and hope you may care to watch it. You can do so BY CLICKING HERE.
How lucky I have been to meet Haruka! On top of all her other achievements, she has also mastered English, so I have had most enjoyable conversations with her.
|My most recent meeting with Haruka|
- on 18 February 2017