Currently based in Tokyo, Ayako's work moves between total improvisation and standard jazz, quick sketches and impressionist painting, creating rules and then breaking them as she roams freely between linguistic and alinguistic facets of expression.
Low as an echo in a tunnel, then light as a child's conversation; chasing the band one moment, and ringing out wild and alone the next: Ayako's vocal performances encompass a kaleidoscopic range of expression.
Steeped in music from childhood, Ayako went from piano and solfege lessons in a junior conservatory-track program to performing in everything from choral societies to the euphonium section of her local youth brass band. In junior high school she joined the drama club, where she was active both behind the scenes as a scriptwriter and on stage in award-winning lead performances. By high school she was regularly performing with college clubs and troupes, and it was here that she discovered the possibility of live, on-stage improvisation.
Confounding the expectations of friends and family, after graduation Ayako went to art school instead of attending a conservatory. Studying oil painting and holding solo and group exhibitions by day, by night she explored the standard jazz repertoire as a vocalist in local clubs. As part of her college's jazz circle, she led an nouvelle chanson group whose innovative act combined ten minutes of music with half an hour of solo dramatic performance.
After graduation, as her art slowly grew more impressionistic in nature, Ayako's musical interests came to encompass totally improvised performance, and this is the field she continues to explore. In recent years, she has combined vocal improvisation with spontaneous painting as a multimedia on-stage performance.
Just as she strives to retain the feel of sketching with pencil on paper in her art, whatever her actual materials and media may be, Ayako eschews processing, effectors, and even percussion or other self-accompaniment in her vocal performances, seeking instead to express all the sounds of nature with her voice as her only instrument.
In the Spring of 2014, in the trio Platz, Siwula, Ishenko were scheduled to perform as part of Blaise Siwula’s ongoing Sunday evening series, COMA, at ABC No-Rio in NYC. A few days prior Blaise was contacted by vocalist Ayako Kanda informing him that she would be visiting from Tokyo that same evening. The group invited Ayako to join the ensemble, a last minute but very satisfying decision for sure! The group, including drummer David Miller will record their first CD in early May in Brooklyn New York, to be released in the fall of 2015.