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Deep Modern Jazz From Japan

Discussion in 'music' started by John C, Jan 12, 2022.

  1. John C

    John C pfm Member

  2. Hook

    Hook Blackbeard's former bo'sun.

    I have the three Jazz from Japan volumes on vinyl. Great pressings and amazing music! All three are essential purchases IMHO.

    Not really a fan of compilations from artists I know, but these are different. Almost all of these Japanese artists were unknown to me, so the albums have served not only as wonderful introductions, but also as guideposts for future exploration.
    paulfromcamden likes this.
  3. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    sideshowbob and MUTTY1 like this.
  4. hockman

    hockman pfm Member

    When initially encountering japanese jazz years ago, I thought most of it sounded derivative and at times bordered on mimicry of contemporaneous American jazz. Having listened to a lot more and being a bit more familiar with some of the bigger names (although far from being knowledgeable), I find that the truth is a bit more nuanced of course. Nevertheless there is more than a grain of truth to my earlier view. For instance, there is much to appreciate and enjoy in Jazzman's 3 volume comps but only a few of the tracks especially stand out to me, and make me want to seek out more of the artists' work.

    The Guardian article is not particularly insightful. Most of it seems to be based on the writeup in the Jazzman reissues and the artists they covered. For me (so far, in my ongoing japanese journey), the big names are Sadao Watanabe, Masabumi Kikuchi and Terumasa Hino. They all made interesting albums from the late 60s to the early 80s, sometimes together. The Watanabe of that period is nothing like the smooth fusion jazz or neo bop music that he played in the 80s and later.

    Other artists worth pursuing are Kohsuke Mine and Aki Takase. The failure in the article in mentioning Yosuke Yamashita is a notable mistake. Perhaps he played more free jazz and therefore is outside the purview of the article and comps.

    The biggest problem you will have in exploring this stuff is obtaining the records. Japanese jazz like some other genres of jazz has become extremely collectible especially on records. Even in Japan, many of the records are expensive and hard to find. Over the last decade, there have been more reissues in Japan of this music but they are pricey and not easily available outside the country. For this reason, the Jazzman reissues and comps are a godsend. And if you are fine with CDs, you will have more choices and the cost of entry is far lower (but you'd have to order from Japan).

    In terms of availability (rather than specific recommendations), you may be able to find some of Watanabe's early albums because he was a major Sony artist. Takase made a great album on Enja (track featured on J Jazz vol 3). Hino also recorded with Mal Waldron on Enja. Yamashita collaborated with Joe Lovano on a few albums in the 90s, so these CDs may still be found second hand.

    P/S: Three Blind Mice is highly regarded among audiophiles. Personally I find most of it pretty insipid and unadventurous music-wise, with some exceptions.
    paulfromcamden likes this.
  5. kjb

    kjb pfm Member

  6. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    MUTTY1 likes this.
  7. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    @hockman is absolutely right that finding this stuff can be tricky. Though it's also worth bearing in mind that the BBE J-Jazz series is run by a couple of avid record collectors who are focussing on obscure / rare / private press LPs to reissue so it's no wonder that the originals are $$$s.

    Not in a deep/spiritual vein but I really like this Kunihiko Sugano LP from 1977.

  8. Graham H

    Graham H pfm Member

  9. molee

    molee pfm Member

    Nice (in parts, and informative) not nice in others.
  10. poco a poco

    poco a poco I'm Jim

    I have been working my way through some of the Japanese Jazz offerings on NTS radio from their Jazz Week from last May. Currently listening to the Masabumi Kikuchi Special.

    I’m am particularly liking sum of the ones with I think it will be Kosuke Mine on Soprano Sax.
    hockman and paulfromcamden like this.
  11. John C

    John C pfm Member

    I’ve bought the 3 J Jazz compilations so will start there. Weaning myself off vinyl reissues so CD. Thanks for all the comments
  12. anubisgrau

    anubisgrau pfm Member

    I've had a problem to find a local jazz joint in Tokyo. Instead I ended at Bar Tracks, playing vintage US jazz on vintage gear and drinking Japanese single malts.
    darrenyeats likes this.
  13. poco a poco

    poco a poco I'm Jim

    I like this 1977 post hard bop/free jazz album from trumpet, fugal horn player Itaru Oki with Takashi Kako on piano.

    sideshowbob likes this.
  14. poco a poco

    poco a poco I'm Jim

    A more lyrical, but they can also 'swing' when needed, live piano trio. Teru Sakamoto - Farewell My Johnny. A bit Bill Evans like at times.

    Great version of 'My Favourite Things' on this.
  15. poco a poco

    poco a poco I'm Jim

    Hidefumi Toki Quartet (1975) - Toki ( Hidefumi Toki Alto and soprano sax)
  16. John C

    John C pfm Member

    i was there a few years ago. In Tokyo went to The Pit Inn and Dug. Lots of fabulous little joints in Kyoto and Tokyo. Would love to return
    paulfromcamden and anubisgrau like this.
  17. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    I've never managed to get to Pit Inn. Last time I was in Tokyo, Evan Parker was playing. My better half was very clear that she didn't go halfway round the planet to see someone who regularly plays in Dalston!
    Take5 likes this.

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