Aki Takase was born in Osaka and grew up in Tokyo. She already had piano- lessons when she was three years old. Piano was her main subject during her studies at the Tohogakuen University in Tokyo. 1979 she had a longer stay in the U.S.A. 1981 at the Jazz-festival in the philarmony of Berlin, the first celebrated performance with her trio featuring Takeo Moriyama and Nobuyoshi Ino in germany. Numerous concerts and recordings with Dave Liebman, Sheila Jordan, Cecil McBee, Lester Bowie, Bob Moses, Joe Henderson, Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen and many more followed. In the nnetees for years very successfull duos with the singer MARIA JOAO, and with the saxophonist DAVIA MURRAY. Work in trio with REGGIE WORKMANN and RASHIED ALI in duet with ALEX von SCHLIPPENBACH, as well as occasional projects with the TOKI STRING ORCHESTA. Actual is above all her co- operation with the bass- clarinettist RUDI MAHALL as well as with the lyricist YOK TAWADA, each time a duo, and also her trio DEMPA (with Aleks Kolkowski and Tony Buck). Record- prizes of the UDJ Aki Takase got in 1990 (Play Ballads of Duke Ellington), 1991 (Shima Shoka), 1994 (Blue Monk), and 1998 (Duet for Eric Dolphy). From 1997 to 1999 she worked as guest-lecturer at the university for music “Hanns Eisler ” in Berlin. 1998 she received the critic-prize of the “Berliner newspaper”. In the year 2001 her Solo-CD’S “Le Cahier du Bal “(Leo Records) was published as well as her “W.C.Handy-Project” with Rudi Mahall, Nils Wogram, Fred Frith and Paul Lovens under the name “St. Louis Blues” (Enja Records). Aki Takase received the SWR Jazzaward 2002 for the St. LouisBlues CD and in 2004 she was awarded the prestigious German Critics Award (Preis der dt. Schallplattenkritik). Since then she is working on numerous new projects which are duos is Alexander von Schlippenbach, Lauren Newton, Silke Eberhard (Ornette Coleman Anthology) and Louis Sclavis as well as in Trio with LOK 03 (Alexander von Schlippenbach & DJ Illvibe), TAMA (Jan Roder and Oliver Steidle), Aki and the Good Boys and her latest solo project, to mention just a few. Aki Takase is one of the most creative jazzartists nowadays.
“I believe that the giant masters of music in history would all agree with me when I state that band leaders are concerned with how they can let the members of their band (whom they have dragged into their own personal amusement park!) express themselves freely and how they can showcase their individual personalities. Think of Duke Ellington, Charlie Mingus, Gill Evans, Miles Davis – each band has its own sound, yet provides a venue for each member to express their full personality. Aki’s septet is the 90′s expression of this ideal. Following the tradition of jazz, she has pulled together an ensemble from a free, easy, and broad vanguard of jazz players who have rounded out the Republic of Jazzmen.” – Aoki Makoto’s liner notes
Up to now, Aki Takase has maintained this ideal attitude and sense of freedom with all the different projects she is involved with.
Louis Sclavis was born in Lyon in 1953 – clarinettist, saxophonist and composer.
He asserted himself since almost fifteen years as one of the most creative musician of the jazz european scene and is well known as one of the forefathers of the folklore imaginaire.
As a leader he always choose the way between improvisation and composition. For Louis Sclavis, the musical meeting is essential for a momentum of creation and exploration of new tracks, so his musical encouters have been with different musicians and styles and formed the musical person that is expressed in his work
Louis Sclavis never loses the integrity of his musical conception, according to his compositions which melt his hypothetical influences in a beautiful and daring general effect.
Vincent Courtois was born in Paris in 1968 and began playing the cello when he was six years old .He took classical studies at the conservatory in Aubervilliers and Paris with Erwan Fauré, Xavier Gagnepain, Roland Pidoux and Fréderick Lodéon while discovering jazz and improvisation with Didier Levallet, Dominique Pifarely and Christian Escoudé.
Vincent Courtois began playing in various Parisian groups and his first CD as a leader, titled „Cello News“, was released in 1990.Since then Vincent Courtois has recorded more than ten cd’s‚ as a leader, among them: „Translucide“ (with Michel Godard and Noel Akchoté) , „The Fitting Room“ with (Dominique Pifarely and Marc Ducret) both for Enja Records , „What do you mean by silence?“ (Le Triton), and “ L’homme Avion“ ( Chief Inspector).
Vincent played in several of Rabih Abou Khalil’s bands („Yara“ and „The Cactus of Knowledge“) and plays frequently with clarinetist Louis Sclavis („L’affrontement des prétendants“, „Dans la nuit“ and „Napoli’s walls“ on ECM Records).
Vincent also plays regularly with trombonist Yves Robert ( „In Touch“ on ECM and „Inspirine“ on Chief Inspector) and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier („Lonelyville“ on Intakt and „Asap“ on CamJazz)
In the past twenty years Vincent Courtois has played or recorded with artists such as Pierre Favre, James Newton, Laurent de Wilde, Julien Lourau, Jim Black, Tomas Stanko, Dave Douglas, Renaud Garcia Fons, Tom Raney, Mark Nauseef, Joachim Kuhn, Michel Portal, Cyril Atef, Maxime Delpierre, Benoit Delbecq, Henri Texier, Dave Holland, François Corneloup, Wolfang Pouchnick, Mark Feldman , Médéric Collignon, Martial Solal, Michel Petrucciani, Gérard Marais, Rita mitsuko, John Greaves, Michelle Rabbia, Marilyn Crispell, Gerald Cleaver, Ikue Mori and many others great musicians…
In 2010, Vincent Courtois created the new Band „WAT“ and was made a Chevalier of the ’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres‘, by the French Ministry of Culture .
He also performs in duet and quartet with Michel Portal, and recorded a solo cd.
Dominique Pifarély (born 1957) is a French jazz violinist. Born in Bègles, he is known as a modernizer who works in Avant-garde jazz, but he has also worked in „Post-bop“ and other contexts. Dominique Pifarély modernized jazz violin, combining extraordinary technical skills with an inclusive idea of music-making. He has been soon very in-demand as a straight jazz player, but was soon in some of the more adventurous groups in Europe, too, including Mike Westbrook’s band (On Dukes‘ Birthday, hatART) and the Vienna Art Orchestra.
In 1979, he began touring with bassist Didier Levallet and guitarist Gérard Marais as a trio. In the 1980s he began leading his own bands, as can be heard on 2 records, Insula Dulcamara (1988) et Oblique (1992).
In 1985, Pifarély started to work with reedist Louis Sclavis and in 1992, they formed the Sclavis/Pifarély Acoustic Quartet, featuring guitarist Marc Ducret and bassist Bruno Chevillon, and recorded for ECM. In the late 1990s, he started a duo work with pianist François Couturier, and they recorded a prominent album (Poros, ECM, 1997).
Dominique Pifarély is now focusing on different personal projects. Impromptu is a development of the collaboration with François Couturier, adding counter tenor Dominique Visse and a work on contemporary poetry. He also initiated numerous text/music experiences with French writer François Bon and actors Violaine Schwartz and Pierre Baux. The Dédales ensemble is an acoustic nine piece band. He founded in 2007 a trio with keyboard player Julien Padovani and drummer Eric Groleau.
In his mature style, the classical violin tradition and the swing lessons combine with a contemporary European sonic exploration ; his technical mastery and quick imagination allow him to move seamlessly between these worlds.
He regularly performs in whole Europe, and has been touring in USA, Canada, Japan, India, Middle East, Latin America or Africa.