Jizue is a Japanese instrumental band originating from the city of Kyoto which combines elements of rock, comtemporary jazz, and other genres. They were formed in 2006 and have released 4 albums between 2010 and 2014. The band consists of the following members, all who have been there from the start except the piano player who joined in 2007.
- 山田剛（Gou Yamada) – Bass
- 井上典政（Noriyuki Inoue) – Guitar
- 片木希依（Kie Katagi) – Piano
- 粉川心（Shin Kokawa) – Drums
As to the band’s style, I think the blurb on the band’s profile page sums it up pretty well:
(The band’s) sound is a perfectly balanced composition of a soul-shaking power influenced by rock and hardcore music, a sense of swing inherited from Jazz, and sweet lyrical melodies.
Most of my listening experience of this band has come from their second album, Novel, which has several complex, up-beat songs performed brilliantly by these four skilled musicians. One of my favorites is “kotonoha” (which means “words” or “language” in Japanese), and is one of their few songs with a vocal track. Another of my favorites, this one a bit slower tempo, is “Pray” which features Kie’s beautiful piano melodies which dance between melancholy and bright moments. You can hear the entire album on YouTube here, or find it on the Apple Music service.
One of my only gripes with this great band is that they are apt to break out mid-song into what I call ‘jam-mode’, where they adopt a more less structured, more repetitive style that almost sounds like Jazz-Techno at some points (not necessarily a good thing). Once or twice I was strongly reminded of similar jams in the classic bluegrass/fusion band Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, though overall I feel Bela’s team is more skilled. Check Jizue’s song “Sun” for an example of this. At around three minutes into this song I was ready to press the ‘next’ button, though the end partially redeems itself with a return to a more melodic sounds (only after some more tedious riffs and a few quirky key changes). The band calls their approach to this album innovative (革新的) and I’ll give them credit since this mixed style is innovative.
Jizue is written in Japanese as ジズー which would be written in romaji as “Jizuu”. In an interview the band reveals their name comes from the famous French soccer player Zinedine Zidane’s nickname “Zizou”. It’s an especially fitting name since the band members were all childhood friends who played soccer together. The full text of the interview is here, and this makes for good Japanese reading practice if you are interested.
In spite of the tedious moments, Jizue (especially their Novel album) is overall a great listening experience, especially if you are into instrumental music like I am. From what I have seen, this band is more about enjoying the creative expression process as opposed to making money, which is a trait that has become harder to find lately.
If you like this band, consider checking out “Gesu no Kiwami Otome” which I reviewed previously here. They are a group with strong instrumentalists and vocals, and have some similarities with Jizue.
Image credit: the image was taken from their website’s biography page (http://www.jizue.com/biography)