May 19, 2013

Japanese Jazz 1950s–1980s [listen to 和ジャズ・ディスク・ガイド」

barabara sounds sez:
Just change my name to Taro Urashima
And, for my local friends: 大変お待たせしました…

Yes, here we go again, back from a long siesta — and kicking back into the groove with a j-jazz comp that emerged earlier this year. It's a sampler, a taster to whet your appetite, especially for those who have got their hands onto the essential primer on the j-jazz golden age (in Japanese it's called Wa-jazz Disc Guide). But you don't have to have the book in front of you to recognize the quality of the cuts here: there are some out-and-out gems.

Starting right from the get-go with the opening cut from Toshiko Akiyoshi, and then through Watanabe and Hino (a track off the classic Hi-Nology album when he followed Miles into electric territory) to Kiyoshi Sugimoto's moody Babylonia Winds, there are plenty of pearls to be dug up here. Check out some of those lesser-known artists, like Takeshi Inomata & Sound L.T.D.; or the cut by Toshiyuki Miyama & His New Herd.

Now go track down those albums (and there are a few hints in those links)…

a journalist sez:
Most of the tracks… are from albums that are highly sought after by DJs and record collectors the world over (with some going for very high prices). A lot of the albums either haven't been reissued, or have only reappeared as limited editions. So for any jazz fans who have neither the time or budget to track down the originals, this compilation is a great shortcut as well as a opportunity for beginners to dip into the rich sounds of this country's past.

May 18, 2013

Teruo Nakamura - Unicorn

barabara sounds sez:
Another classic TBM side from 1973, and probably the best thing that Nakamura ever laid down. Which is all thanks to the company he keeps here. It is (as TJ points out) a bit of a mixed bag, and I'm with those who say Umma Be Me, soulful and funky though it is, doesn't really belong on the album. But the other tracks more than make up for it, especially the final two tracks. Dusty, on the other hand, seems to like it all start to finish!

dusty sez:
A landmark album from the Japanese fusion scene of the 70s – a killer set of tracks recorded by bassist Teruo Nakamura, with help from a host of American soul jazz luminaries! The album's easily one of Nakamura's most sought-after sets – cut in New York in 1973, with players that include Steve Grossman, George Cables, Lenny White, Hubert Eaves, and Alphonze Mouzon. Tracks are long and jamming, but also have a wonderfully soulful component – a bit of the post-Coltrane spiritualism of some of Gary Bartz's early albums, and some of the open-ended styles you might hear on a label like Strata East. Singer Sandy Hewitt sings on 2 tracks – including the funky "Umma Be Me", which almost feels like an Andy Bey groover from the same time! (thom jurek) sez:
Unicorn was bassist Teruo Nakamura's first date as a leader. Recorded and issued in Japan on the legendary Three Blind Mice imprint in 1973, Nakamura had been working in New York since 1964. He'd done a lot of hardscrabble work before 1969 when he landed the gig as bassist in Roy Haynes' fine group of the time. During that year he formed a band with Steve Grossman and Lenny White, who both appear here. This is an interesting date because it is equally divided between very electric fusion tracks and more modal acoustic numbers…
The music is very much of its time, and though it is a session players gig, with rotating lineups, there is plenty of fire here. Grossman had already done his stint with Miles Davis and is in fine form on soprano (especially on the opening title cut), and tenor on John Coltrane's "Some Other Blues." White and Mouzon are both outstanding, so the drum chair is killer throughout, no matter who's playing, and Cables' Rhodes work on the Trane cut and "Derrick's Dance," written by Miller, is stellar. Nakamura, for his part, is more than an able bassist; he leads by guiding the rhythm and not standing out as a soloist. This set has aged very well and was finally issued in the states on CD in 2007 on the Passion Music imprint.

Unicorn Lady; Understanding; Some Other Blues; Umma Be Me; New Moon; Derrick's Dance

Teruo Nakamura bass; Steve Grossman soprano sax; Charles Sullivan trumpet; George Cables electric piano, piano; Hubert Eaves III electric piano, piano; John Miller piano; Alphonse Mouzon drums; Lenny White drums; Ronald Jackson percussion; Alvern Bunn congas; Keiji Kishida percussion; Sandy Hewitt vocals