An interesting blend of jazz/blues polish and sass is what we have here from trumpeter/vocalist Kiku Collins on her latest project, Red Light.
The former Beyonce trumpet player who’s worked with the likes of Michael Bolton and Jill Scott has a style as sexy and smooth as silk and as authentic as her persona.
Using great phrasing and arrangements, the music presented here–the vast majority of which was co-written by Collins–is a combination of sweet, sexy, and “come hither” sensuality (listen to “Tag Play” for a good example) and funky, enflamed groove (e.g., “Come My Way” – check out bassist Malcolm Gold’s work while you’re here).
Take a walk on the blues side as the sexy lady treats us to the title track with all the sultriness expected in a song bearing that title, and check out the adeptness of pianist Xavier Davis and the magnificent guest sax work of Michael Lington.
This material has body, melody, and presence. When you listen to the tenderness of Collins’ caressing trumpet and Hendrix Helmer’s guitar on the well-composed piece “Silence Thief,” you are reminded of the beautiful vastness and creativity of the world of really good jazz. The alluring track that follows, “Sea of Grapes,” with guitarist Francesco Guaiana giving Collins a helping hand, further gives evidence of that.
“In the Bag” kicks it all up a notch or two in tempo and sets that other groove mode in motion. Nothing says “Let’s shake it out” like a number like this. Closing this delicacy out is “August Won,” a beautiful– though disappointingly short– track with Collins on vocals.
All said, Collins arrives here with a comely project full of color and diversity. Red Light has something on which to grab hold. It doesn’t murmur; it proudly sings.
Kiku Collins: Press/Reviews
Reviews for live and recorded work
I really do think you are one of the best out there on the current trumpet community. Your section playing, tone, control, and solo chops, outstanding!! (Mind you, it's not the old "female brass player" thing...)
There is a contemporary sound to this music, a mixture of modern jazz trumpet, fusion and rock that all blends together surprisingly well. Ms. Collins plays trumpet and flugelhorn like a twenty-first century Miles Davis; there is a Spanish tinge to many of these improvised solos and also a touch of melancholy, similar to that which was always present in Miles's music. Flute and vibes solos are pretty much straightahead jazz contributions and the rock flavoured bass and drum punctuations are somehow quite appropriate and suitable for this music. The Messenger is essentially a slow ballad with Ms. Collins blowing moody, atmospheric trumpet and Harris shining with a mournful guitar solo. Confidential Obituary continues the dark, sad mood and offers more, intense trumpet playing...
... the result is really good music; in the contemporary manner, in terms of instrumentation and recording practices but sounding fresh and inspired all through. I would urge all enthusiasts to put aside pre-conceived notions of any kind and just listen. It is well worth the effort.
Kiku is a MUSICAL trumpet player. Her phrasing, sound and lyricism remind me of great singers. For me, that is one of the best compliments that I could give to any trumpet player! I really enjoy listening to her CD and would highly recommend it to others. (Trumpet players or not.)
Kiku, you're not only beautiful - you're a kick ass player!
Quick story, Saturday night, I stop by a friends house. It's late and we're eating after a night of Pre-New Years Eve celebrating(because I had to work New Years Eve :-( . There's a house full of people. My buddy turns on the TV and this "Beyonce" special is on, the Tokyo concert... I'm riveted on this trumpet player. I'm asking anyone that will listen, who's she??? She's amazingly attractive and a pretty good horn player. The credits rolled so fast, I couldn't read em :-( Tuesday night, the show aired again, so I DVR'd it. After it goes off, I roll the credits slow and there's the name. I checked out your page, good music. I'd like to hear more. Anyway, just thought I'd share that with you. Hopefully my note won't get lost in the hundreds of other e-mails and correspondents I'm sure you receive.
My favorite trumpet players are: Maynard Ferguson & Kiku Collins.
"Trumpeters of the female variety in jazz are few & far between. This woman throws gender down the drain with performances like dis.
Soothing on the soul on Sunday mornin,’ this ain’t no Fed Ex; it is hand delivered right to your heart"
(--For those too young to remember, Al 's first real taste of pop music success was with The Royal Teens, who had a Top 5 hit with the tune "Short Shorts" in 1958 and a Top 30 hit a year later with "Believe Me." Al went on to play with Bob Dylan, Blood Sweat and Tears, Jimi Hendrix... need I go on? I've never met him and am so flattered to find that he has discovered *my* music! I don't care what spaceship brought him to me, I'm utterly flattered. Thanks, Al, for the kind surprise of this review!)
Kiku Collins is the kind of musician that reminds other musicians of why they play music in the first place! She is a rock solid as both a band leader and support player!
...there is a lesbian couple (nicely played by Kiku Collins and Jennie Lee Mitchell, who also double as musicians)... (Fire Island)
I wanted to say thanks so much for coming to play for (the Kindergarten music) class this week. The kids loved it. They were so excited. I've been telling my other classes about your visit and we've been playing the bugle all week.
"Simply put, Kiku Collins is the greatest trumpet player I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. I have been a student of the trumpet since the 1970s and I grew up listening to famous players like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Al Hirt, Phil Driscoll, Doc Severinsen and many more. Kiku has a style and technique that is second to none! Her album, "Here with Me", comes alive and takes me to paradise every time I listen to it. I'm honored to recommend such a gifted and talented person as Kiku Collins!"
...the trumpet is a very good addition. The trumpet really nails everything down...
Here With Me is very musical; thoughtful, and carefully executed. Kiku Collins demonstrates her classic, solid trumpet technique in an un-showy, thoroughly musical way with compositions that combine to create an essentially 'post-modern' listening experience - lyrical ballads; latin grooves; urgent jazz guitar and flute float over a variety of grooves and generic textures - some pop; folk; latin and, of course, jazz. Her brasslines evoke lots of jazz greats but are delivered with contemporaneity and an understanding of the immediacy of good pop melody. Lovers of modern trumpet will hear Ms Collins ability to produce not only a straight 'pure' sound but also the slightly sizzling tone that suggests carnival passion and dance. And as a bonus we get the utter warmth of her flugel; and the rich sound of her multi-tracked trombone section. Buy it!
Issue 9, page 6
...Could we possibly forget the sexiest and one of the Best damn horn players we have ever seen in NYC? She plays out with everyone and she is Always in demand so catch her act (We've seen her play two horns at once!) before you Can't afford it...
...and your voice is quite fetching...
You sounded- and looked, I must say- absolutely amazing! That horn was fittin' to jump out your hands if you played it any harder on that solo you took at the end of the night!
Kiku has a unique sound. Not only is her group tightly knit, she has an outstanding sound. She layers on trumpet, flugel, and trombone parts that fit well together. You can feel her spirit in the quality of her playing. Aren't many ladies playing trumpets and she is definately one to watch. After listening to this CD I wanted to hear more.
Kiku puts a flugelhorn to her lips and animals come to listen, it's so sweet.
I became aware of Kiku Collins when I attended a Michael Bolton concert recently. During the Sinatra section of his concert I became extremely aware of the brass section. It was all girls and Kiku was there in the middle! She definitely made you feel you were "Here With Me". Her debut album makes you feel the same way. Just carries you no matter which instrument she is playing. The sound is definitely smooth jazz but with a touch of the classic. Whether you catch her live or pick up a copy of her CD.. you can't lose!
Over the weekend I saw Aldo Perez play with a full band. I've seen him play 2 or 3 times before, but only with the conga playing guy. This time around there was the conga guy, a drummer, two horns (kiku collins on trumpet was amazing) a bassist, and aldo... hot damn...
All I can tell you, is that this is one of the most amazing shows you can catch in NYC. Go see him as soon as you can... prepare for a spiritual cleansing... your face WILL hurt... its so worth it
...Upon first hearing Kiku Collins, that overwhelming feeling of discovering something extraordinary is unavoidable. To those of us with the overpowering lust for the aesthetics of Melody...these occurrences are special. Someone who consistently dishes-out, track after track...after track of unbelievably beautiful melody is surreal and definitely calls for a celebratory bonfire among devotees of tuneful improvisation. Well beyond her years --- as evinced by the language of her finely accented phrasing --- she can hang a note like a sky on fire over a steady, potent Latin rhythm or do a mid-air pause to highlight ( she pauses to highlight ) the sweetness of a chordal turn. Musical improvisation requires unfaltering instinct, listening and as equally --- timing. Kiku wields and uses them at her disposal to fully facilitate the vigor of a melodious interplay...from player to player; the free-flow always leads to sonorous mind-vistas, woven together by the spontaneity of a craftily circulating woodwind... "Levitation" calmly takes you on a wonder-sojourn without leaving your physical space...the lift is total. "Blues Again" has the steady radiance of a quiet fire. It smolders but, doesn't burn...the cool glow draws you in...slowburning...riveting. 1,2,3---Go!..."Cartoons of the Prophet" is hip-vibery. Tuned-in to the world but, wound around a charming melody; detached from real-life...as the pretty Ninja Princess evokes harmony --- not only musicaly --- but to "those who listen with a Center" --- The beauty in all things is apparent.
E' stato amore sin dal primo ascolto!!! 10 tracce suonate alla grande da questa talentuosa e "graziosa" musicista americana!!! Gli ottimi arrangiamenti musicali eseguiti alla perfezione da un Band di tutto rispetto rendono questo CD un MUST!!! ASSSSSSOLUTAMENTE DA NON PERDERE!!!! TOP CD IN ITALIA!!! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
Is there a man alive who wouldn't worship at the Temple of Kiku?
How does she look like that AND play like that at the same time?