It’s been a busy month for Fumi Tomita, assistant professor of jazz and string bass in the department of music and dance.
Tomita’s newest CD, “The Elephant Vanishes: Jazz Interpretations of the Short Stories of Haruki Murakami,” has just been released on OA2 Records. Murakami is known as the author of “IQ84,” a massive three-volume work of dystopian fantasy. The Elephant Vanishes features Tomita’s interpretations of seven short stories by Murakami that draw on themes of despair, loneliness, disconnection, and self-discovery. Equally prominent are the Western pop culture references and magical elements that decorate each story. Along with saxophonist Jason Rigby, guitarist Mike Baggetta, pianist Art Hirahara and drummer Mark Micklethwaite, Tomita reimagines Murakami’s literary themes and transforms them into rich musical landscapes. Writing for the “Midwest Record,” reviewer Chris Spector describes the release as “a fine change-up from a ‘bass ace,’ one who has been honing his skills in New York for the last 15 years.”
Tomita will be one of the subjects of an article on jazz and literature in the July issue of “Downbeat” Magazine and the new CD has also been approved for review by National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”
At almost the same time, Tomita’s new book, “The Jazz Rhythm Section: A Manual for Band Directors,” was published by Rowman & Littlefield. The book is designed as a practical guide to improving a band’s sound by bolstering the foundation of the group, with chapters on each of the primary instruments in the rhythm section: bass, drums, piano and guitar. Other key topics include equipment and set up issues, performance practice, the rhythm section and its inter-relationships and suggestions for count-offs and metronome exercises that will help directors of all levels to improve their bands.