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 soul-soothing rhythms and shimmering harmonies.
AfuriKo began experimenting in 2010, when Jim & Akiko’s paths crossed in Paris as a result of following a shared, irrepressible call to Africa, its culture, and its Diaspora. The ancestral stories of the djembe encountered the modern colours of the keyboards through a quasi-telepathic dialogue… And a playful blending of tones and beats came to life!
From 2017 to January 2021, Akiko and Jim lived in Queens, New York, where they experienced letting the energy that emanates from the most ethnically diverse part of the world nourish their creative process on a daily basis.
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 third opus Tao (2019), successfully funded on Kickstarter and released to critical acclaim with reviews on London Jazz News, 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, Ronnie Scott’s, Vortex Jazz Club), the United States (ShapeShifter Lab, Rockwood Music Hall), Japan (Kanazawa Jazz Street, Asahi Shimbun’s Asacom Hall), France (Sunset Sunside, Le Cap/Villes des Musiques du Monde), Uruguay (Jazz a la Calle), Germany (JazzLab, JazzCanDance), Holland (Theater Vrijburcht), Iceland (Skuggabaldur), Belgium (JAZZ), Switzerland (Territet & Co.), Nepal (Kathmandu Jazz Festival, Jazz Upstairs), South Korea (Jazz Alley), and collaborated with artists such as Hiroshi Fukutomi (Japan), Siggi Flosason (Iceland), Eddie Parker, Ant Law (UK), Nino Wenger (Switzerland), Corey A. Wallace, Alex Busby Smith, Bill Sims, Jr. (US), and Bruno Wilhelm (France).
Back in France in a small rural village near Compiègne since March 2021 (after a short stint in Reykjavík, Iceland, on their way back from New York), AfuriKo is currently growing their own veggies, touring across Europe, and working on a new full-length album.