AfuriKo – a Japanese portmanteau word combining “Afurika” (アフリカ) and the suffix “Ko” (子) which means “child” – is an African infused jazz duo comprised of percussionist Akiko Horii and pianist/keyboardist Jim Funnell. Like a modern-day griot, they celebrate traditional heritage from around the world through the prism of spellbinding rhythms and eccentric harmonies.
Propelled into existence when Jim & Akiko’s paths crossed in Paris as a result of following a shared, irrepressible call to Africa, its culture, and its Diaspora, AfuriKo began experimenting in 2010. A playful blending of tones and beats came to life, and a unique, quasi-telepathic dialogue between the ancestral stories of the djembe and the modern voice of digital pianos and synthesizers was quickly initiated.
Their first two albums – On the Far Side (2014) and Style (2016) – were produced with the support of SACEM (the French Society of Authors, Composers, and Music Publishers). Their new opus Tao (2019), successfully funded on Kickstarter and released to critical acclaim with reviews on All About Jazz and Festival Peak, is a shamanic jazz journey from ancestral Africa to NYC, steeped in deep grooves with shades of Funk, Pop, Reggae, Bulgarian, and Enka music.
The duo was featured on Congahead and has toured extensively in the UK (London Jazz Festival, Cardiff University Concert Hall, Vortex Jazz Club), the United States (ShapeShifter Lab, Rockwood Music Hall, Summer Streets in NYC), Japan (Kanazawa Jazz Street, Asahi Shimbun’s Asacom Hall), France (Sunset Sunside, Le Cap/Villes des Musiques du Monde), Germany (JazzLab, JazzCanDance), Holland (Theater Vrijburcht), Nepal (Kathmandu Jazz Festival, Jazz Upstairs), South Korea (Jazz Alley), and collaborated with artists such as Hiroshi Fukutomi (Japan), Eddie Parker (UK), Bill Sims, Jr. (US), and Bruno Wilhelm (France).
Since 2017, Akiko and Jim have been living in Queens, New York, letting the energy that emanates from the most ethnically diverse part of the world nourish their creative process on a daily basis. They are currently preparing a CD release tour that will take them to South America, Europe, and Asia in 2020.
“Just like the CD cover, a colorful yin-yang symbol reminiscent of a butterfly or a boubou dress, Tao blends African, Asian, and Western influences into a joyous melting pot of notes and rhythms.”
“Like the storytellers it pays homage to, AfuriKo has a lot to share, and whatever you think you hear at first is only scratching the surface.”
“Tao is full of dualities […]: simple and complex, exotic and highly listenable, bare-bones in format while busy and full in execution.”
“AfuriKo’s new music really flies in the face of jazz, opening up your ears to a world of possibilities.”
“Tao features the African-infused jazz duo doing what they were born to do on nine completely and unapologetically individual and eccentric, yet musically pleasing instrumental tracks, focusing entirely on a higher plane.”
“Music that breathes, pulsates, bifurcates, trifles. That is unclassifiable and played with exquisite delicacy, in the course of sly improvisations. Elaborate yet sincere and spontaneous all the while. AfuriKo is an absolutely atypical duo. […] I urge you to discover them and slowly enter their world.”