Go-Zee-Lah, the working duo of Kyoko Kitamura on voice and Yayoi Ikawa on piano, first came together in 2009 when Kitamura joined the successful Costa Rican tour of the Yayoi Ikawa group. Digging into their Japanese roots as well as their collective experiences gained working as sidepersons for distinguished musicians who combine improvisation with structure (Anthony Braxton, Reggie Workman, Steve Coleman, among others),  Ikawa and Kitamura casually began looking at Japanese folk songs as sources of possible compositional and improvisational material.

They were attracted to the “ma” offered by these tunes (“ma” is a Japanese word loosely defined as pause or space) which the duo setting seemed particularly suited to expressing, and found new challenges working within a smaller set of note choices (melodies are often made of less than 6 pitches). It was an unexpected journey into a more minimalistic setting, which the two now continue to explore through their original compositions for Go-Zee-Lah. Go-Zee-Lah was featured at New York City’s legendary Vision Festival in 2010 and performed at the Scandinavia House in December 2011, during a festival of Japanese music curated by Mar Creation. Go-Zee-Lah will perform at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, MA, on May 2nd, 2012.

All photos by Michael Weintrob.