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Jazz From Japan : Now And Then

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    Posted: 15 Dec 2017 at 4:05am
Japan has world's biggest jazz community today. They had "love-hate" relations with this musical genre from WWII, when jazz has been proclaimed "enemy's music" by militarist propaganda. Still after the war US military bases in Japan with their local radio stations and clubs, playing live jazz became main source of genre popularization around the country.

At early stage of modern jazz in Japan there were a few artists,known internationally (of whom veteran Sadao Watanabe still plays and records new music), true explosion happened when free jazz met Japanese young generation musicians at late 60s. Often being under-valuated as "secondary" or "copy-cats" till that time, Japanese scene gave some original world level music at that step. 

Free jazz revolution shaded away very soon in early 70s in Japan (same as in Western world though) and the next significant jump was jazz fusion. Some best Miles Davis  fusion albums are recorded live in Japan, many of leading world fusion stars played there and local following was truly enormous. This fashion influenced birth of hundreds of local fusion bands (very few were really original though), them dominated on domestic scenes right up till the end of the century and some are still active and popular today. 

At the same time starting from late 70s Japan suddenly became main market for high quality mainstream jazz. Many hard bop and post-bop Western stars who lost scenes around America and Europe almost in one day stayed highly regarded on prestigious Japanese scenes for decades ahead. Many best mainstream jazz albums during 70s,80s and 90s have been recorded and released in Japan (Herbie Hancock VSOP band's series of release are great example). 

Starting from late 90s and till now Japanese scene can offer all the line of original young artists playing modern jazz, mixing electronics,rock,hip-hop into their music. Still Japanese jazz is almost unknown outside of the country and possibly only modern fusion star Hiromi received true international  success.

At the same time, local jazz market is burgeoning with lots of new names, strong releases and world largest best jazz re-issues programs. Being follower of Jazz from Japan (i.i. jazz,recorded by Japanese artists and international jazz artists releases,recorded/released originally in Japan) for some years, I would like to spread some more interesting moments of it on this thread. It supposed to be no way chronological or any other systematic writings, more a collection of brightest impressions from some very new music and some really old, with no order. Hope some will find it interesting and useful.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2017 at 4:12am
TRI4TH are Japanese band, founded almost a decade ago. They play high energy modern hip mix of jazz,fusion and electronics and are one of most popular jazz collectives on Japanese scene today. Their last CD has been released a few month ago, it radiates positive energy and fun. 



                       4th Rebellion



The next one is already announced to be released at the very beginning of 2018. It will contain the soundtrack to "Silver Bullet" anime.


Edited by snobb - 07 Jun 2018 at 12:09am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2017 at 4:42am
Free jazz as movie soundtrack? In early 70 such idea didn't sound odd at all.  


One of best Japanese free jazz bands from early 70s - Yosuke Yamash*ta trio:


 



Full soundtrack (recorded in 1972) has been released on CD in 2008




Edited by snobb - 15 Dec 2017 at 4:51am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2017 at 5:14am
Seiichi Nakamura (reedist going mad on a video above) has been soon replaced with Akira Sakata. Yamash*ta's trio recorded some their best albums with him, nowadays Sakata is one of the very best sax player on Japanese scene




In 2001 Sakata recorded quite unusual and interesting album with bassist Bill Laswell, drummer Hamid Drake and guitarist Pete Cosey "Fisherman's.com"





Edited by snobb - 15 Dec 2017 at 5:31am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2017 at 2:26pm
Great American pianist Mal Waldron has been regular guest in Japan, some his best albums are recorded there. The one I love most - Mal Waldron collaboration with leading Japanese trumpeter of mid 70s Terumasa Hino (Japanese only release from 1973,never reissued on CD) :


       


Edited by snobb - 15 Dec 2017 at 2:26pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2017 at 2:49pm
Terumasa Hino himself was a leading jazz trumpeter on Japanese scene from late 60s till mid 70s playing everything from hard bop to fusion to funk-jazz. Unfortunately he switched towards more commercial sound later. His early albums all are true gem.


     


Edited by snobb - 15 Dec 2017 at 2:51pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Dec 2017 at 5:50am
70s and &0s Japanese jazz international icon Sadao Watanabe hasn't always been a wide-smiling sugar-sweet sounding pop-jazz sax player as he is best know for last three or four decades. Started as bop artist, he played bossa novas,no-nonsense fusion and even a "spiritual jazz"(in early 70s). 




Sadao surprised many of his old fans releasing an album of Bach pieces, played on flute just two month ago (Oct.2017)



Edited by snobb - 16 Dec 2017 at 5:52am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Dec 2017 at 1:11pm
back on today's Japanese jazz scene - nu jazzers Fox Capture Plan experience true peack of their popularity




more energetic than genre's idols Swedes EST, Fox Capture Plan are hip and melodic, and they use more electronic tricks


their new album("Untitled") has been released just a few months ago, and the new one is already announced for the 2018 beginning




Edited by snobb - 16 Dec 2017 at 1:16pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Dec 2017 at 2:44am
Not everyone knows that quite often world premieres of international jazz stars releases' start in Japan - and only after few months come to rest of the world's markets.

One of a very fresh examples is Chick Corea and The Gadd Band's new album "Chinese Butterfly" which is available in Japan from November'17, but will be released in Western world in 2018 only.


 

Picture 1 of 2
Picture 2 of 2




Edited by snobb - 18 Dec 2017 at 2:47am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Dec 2017 at 2:38pm
Cult Japanese audiophile label Three Blind Mice besides of releasing some successful Japanese jazz artists albums released few albums of Western musicians, that fact is less unknown. One such album is Duke Jordan Trio concert in Nagoya,recorded in 1982



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2017 at 12:17am
One of most interesting thing in Japanese jazz is its new generation. Still mostly unknown outside of the country, the wave of new bands are forming very unique scene combining trad jazz, free, folk, techno, electronics,psychedelia in one colorful and very Japanese modern musical mix. 


Tokyo-Chutei-Iki are 13-baritone saxes band, founded in 2000





Selim Slive Elementz:




Edited by snobb - 20 Dec 2017 at 12:37am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2017 at 11:56am
One among most popular American jazzy r'n'b pianist Robert Glasper has released his first ever "Best Of..." album - yes, in Japan , on Universal Japan label (just a week ago)

 
    


Edited by snobb - 20 Dec 2017 at 11:57am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Dec 2017 at 1:19pm
Japan is country of contrasts, music scene is a great evidence. Being a heaven for jazz vocalists and largest market of conservative mainstream jazz, at the same time they have world largest radical experimental scene, which combines avant-garde jazz, free improvisation,modern electronic and brutal avant-rock all in one.


Guitarist Otomo Yoshihide - "Lonely Woman"


and some shred without guitars



Edited by snobb - 21 Dec 2017 at 1:20pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Dec 2017 at 11:02am
Most popular internationally for last decade or more Japanese jazz artist Hiromi (pianist Hiromi Uehara) continue releasing her rock-jazz trio albums for international market, at the same time she recorded some unusual duo releases 




October'17 live album:  


Edited by snobb - 25 Dec 2017 at 11:05am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Dec 2017 at 3:44am
Drummer Tamaya Honda's trio will release their new album in January 2018. It contains six Carla Bley compositions among others and slightly recall great Paul Motian impressionistic jazz


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Dec 2017 at 6:28am
Double bassist Daisuke Abe and acoustic/electric guitarist Kuriko Tsugawa duo just released a new mainstream jazz album 

 






Image result for Daisuke Abe & Kuriko Tsugawa 阿部大輔 & 津川久里子 Another Journey CD
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec 2017 at 2:06am
Classic fusion ca. 1975 made huge impact on Japanese jazz and rock scene for decades ahead, there are lot of old and new bands playing music,rooted in this genre's traditions till now. Newest Trix album "Fortune", released in last October is a good example

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec 2017 at 2:19am
Being a heaven for Western jazz singers for decades (and till nowadays), Japan has already a few generations of domestic jazz singers as well. Some of them are just a copycats of Western vocalists, others mixes Japanese and Western tradition, or American jazz with Finnish enka, Brazilian bossa nova,etc,etc. Results strongly varies but often one can hear undetectable music.


Second album of enka singer Yashiro Aki, released few months ago




  





and her previous work



 


Edited by snobb - 31 Dec 2017 at 4:53am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec 2017 at 7:21am
 It's less than one hour left till New Year in Tokyo so very popular now in Japan sax player Ayumi Koketsu song is right in place





She is going to release new album's vinyl version upcoming spring (CD version is already on the market)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2018 at 1:00pm
One among most original Japanese jazz pianist Masabumi Kikuchi (who passed away few years ago) - probably most New York-an of all Japanese jazz musicians


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