Head Man

Japanese Jazz

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And this record, which contains my favorite version of Isn't She Lovely?

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I love Aketagawa's playing, however ... he makes more (and louder) grunting sounds than Glenn Gould and Keith Jarrett COMBINED. Not recommended for listeners who like their piano playing without vocal encouragement.

Oops — I just realized this is a "jazz in print" thread. :wacko:

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I checked and they are indeed available. 

Here's yesterday's: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.nts.live/shows/japanese-jazz-week/episodes/three-blind-mice-5th-may-2021&ved=2ahUKEwijisG_yLXwAhVTi1wKHW9tAIMQFjABegQIBRAC&usg=AOvVaw2_ZrvekzLj_av8UrWhyp3v

It's a very generous 2.5 hours of Three Blind Mice releases. I've listened to it and it's good. Mostly stuff I don't know at all.

J-Fusion's tonight. I'm really looking forward to the Kaoru Abe on Sunday, as I had a late teens infatuation with him but later sold all my CDs.

NTS regularly puts on great shows with very knowledgeable DJs. Generally not this much jazz though, or if it is jazz, it is a trendily saleable category like "Spiritual Jazz".

11 hours ago, Late said:

R-1553906-1539167224-4689.jpeg.jpg

And this record, which contains my favorite version of Isn't She Lovely?

R-10213702-1493500988-2823.jpeg.jpg

I love Aketagawa's playing, however ... he makes more (and louder) grunting sounds than Glenn Gould and Keith Jarrett COMBINED. Not recommended for listeners who like their piano playing without vocal encouragement.

Oops — I just realized this is a "jazz in print" thread. :wacko:

It occurs to me that I know almost nothing about non-free or fusion Japanese jazz. I've listened to a few Hinos and the most occasional Watanabe and that is really about it.

Any suggestions for blogs etc welcome. 

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Posted (edited)

Composer/arranger Tak Shindo mixed big band with traditional Japanese instruments on his Capitol albums Brass and Bamboo and Accent on Bamboo.  Here are the full albums, and you're welcome!

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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8 hours ago, Rabshakeh said:

Any suggestions for blogs, etc. welcome. 

That's pretty cool that you were into Kaoru Abe in your late teens! I like Abe, but a little goes a long way (as you probably already know). That said, I would search out his recordings with Masayuki Takayanagi (if you don't know them already); they seemed to bring out the best in each other. I really like Takayanagi, but, again, you have to be in the right place, right frame of mind. There's also an Abe release on No Business records which is worth hearing.

I haven't taken to Watanabe so far, but I think I'm not listening to the right records.

Definitely pick up Hino's Taro's Mood; there's a complete extra disc of bonus tracks. Also, Vibrations, which sounds like an Albert Mangelsdorff record without Mangelsdorff. Those are my two Hino picks. Then ... Hal Galper's Now Hear This and Bob Degen's Children of the Night.

Sample Shoji Aketagawa first ... and if that works for you, go crazy! I'm a huge fan, but I understand how a lot of (most?) listeners will not have a taste for that kind of piano playing. To me, it sounds like Outsider Music + Thelonious Monk. Or, painterly, Art Brut ... a la Jean DuBuffet. I think Don Cherry would have loved Aketagawa's playing. Technical it is not, but that's not the point. He seemed to prefer out-of-tune pianos as well.

Others here will have more Japanese Jazz recommendations, I'm sure.

(Also, everyone has to have at least one Itaru Oki record! I'd recommend Mirage first. Very AACM-like.)

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I got into Abe sort of randomly. I was getting into Derek Bailey, and read a magazine article about his Aida record, which mentioned that Aida Aquirax was really into Louis-Ferdinand Celine's book "Mort a Credit". It mentioned that Kaoru Abe was also turned onto the book by him. I was a bit obsessed with both modernism and Japan, so I followed the lead as far as it went in both directions. I got really drawn into the mystique, really: the practicing routine by the Sumidagawa, early death, etc. This was pre-Amazon, so it was incredibly hard/not possible to get any Japanese free jazz on a school kid's budget. I somehow got hold of Abe's Mort a Credit and then just obsessed over it in the way you only really do as a teenager. A friend later went to Japan and I made him go to Disk Union and buy any Abe he could. He said asking for Kaoru Abe was like giving a secret handshake, and he came back with tons of Abe CDs, including some Takayanagi collabs. All that only increased my obsession. I made everyone I knew listen to him, and, weirdly, generally got quite a good reaction, even from people who hate more normal free stuff like Sun Ra or Ascension. The "romance" of his lifestyle probably did it, rather than the music.

I've moved away from Abe since then. As you say, it is cool in small doses, but it gets samey quickly, and the multi-instrumentalism is not really a success for him, in my opinion. There's definitely more impressive and important Japanese free players. More importantly, once I discovered the early AACM stuff like Sounds or People in Sorrow, I realised that what I thought was so special about Abe, like his use of space, was actually not limited to him. I still listen to his music every so often though.

Thanks a lot for the other recommendations. Some very good looking stuff. I picked up Oki from this forum - definitely a good find - and will track down the Galpers and Degen. Aketagawa I don't know - which records would you recommend starting with?

Edit: Just noticed Aketagawa mentioned above. Is that the one with which you would recommend starting?

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4 hours ago, Rabshakeh said:

I got into Abe sort of randomly. I was getting into Derek Bailey, and read a magazine article about his Aida record, which mentioned that Aida Aquirax was really into Louis-Ferdinand Celine's book "Mort a Credit". It mentioned that Kaoru Abe was also turned onto the book by him. I was a bit obsessed with both modernism and Japan, so I followed the lead as far as it went in both directions. I got really drawn into the mystique, really: the practicing routine by the Sumidagawa, early death, etc. This was pre-Amazon, so it was incredibly hard/not possible to get any Japanese free jazz on a school kid's budget. I somehow got hold of Abe's Mort a Credit and then just obsessed over it in the way you only really do as a teenager. A friend later went to Japan and I made him go to Disk Union and buy any Abe he could. He said asking for Kaoru Abe was like giving a secret handshake, and he came back with tons of Abe CDs, including some Takayanagi collabs. All that only increased my obsession. I made everyone I knew listen to him, and, weirdly, generally got quite a good reaction, even from people who hate more normal free stuff like Sun Ra or Ascension. The "romance" of his lifestyle probably did it, rather than the music.

I've moved away from Abe since then. As you say, it is cool in small doses, but it gets samey quickly, and the multi-instrumentalism is not really a success for him, in my opinion. There's definitely more impressive and important Japanese free players. More importantly, once I discovered the early AACM stuff like Sounds or People in Sorrow, I realised that what I thought was so special about Abe, like his use of space, was actually not limited to him. I still listen to his music every so often though.

Great story! I fully understand what you mean by being "drawn into the mystique." Abe is almost the perfect character for such a setting. And, agreed, the multi-instrumentalism (particularly the harmonica) was perhaps not the best choice. I'm guessing he'd run out of his own vocabulary on the horns, much in a way, conversely, that Coltrane never ran out of vocabulary. (All those hours and years of practice were for a reason!)

Do you already have Yoshisaburo "Sabu" Toyozumi's Message To Chicago?

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The tracklist is:

1. Roscoe's Tune
2. Malachi's Tune
3. People In Sorrow

That gives you an idea of where his head was at: definitely an homage, but not fawning idolatry. I need to listen to it more! As for Aketagawa, make sure to check sound samples first. I don't mind his vocalizings (I happen to like Irène Aëbi, for context), but I can see how they'd drive most listeners insane. That said, I'd go for nearly everything on his Aketa's Disk label (though he's not on all the releases). As I hear his playing, it's more about breaking down inhibition — Aketagawa is no technician — as every (out-of-tune) note is bursting with wild emotion. I think players like Roland Kirk would have felt an affinity for Aketagawa. Monk may not have liked his playing, but I would still claim there's a direct line between the two.

May as well list [at least] five albums, in order of personal preference:

1. Aketa's Erotical Piano Solo & Grotesque Piano Trio
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Have to start with this one, perhaps because it's his first. I really don't think Aketagawa has a "best" record, but this debut will give you an idea of what you're in for.

2. Trio (this has a different title in Japanese, but I never remember it). How could a person not love the cover?
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This seems to follow up right where the first album left off.

3. Alone In Tokuyama (pictured above) Solo work. A Stevie Wonder cover. Aketagawa's grunting voice overwhelming his own piano playing. Perfection.

4. Shudan Seikatsu
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For me, this is Aketagawa's most "fun" album. But definitely listen to sound samples first. There's a vocalist here (I wish I could read Japanese) that will likely turn most listeners off right away. Her sense of pitch is, um, relative. But this record probably also has Aketagawa's piano in its most out-of-tune state, so pitch isn't really an issue (I guess). The vocalist's scatting is so bad that it's wonderful. In a drunken state, one can even hail it as the best singing EVER. (At least I do.) The whole record is a crazy swirl, serious and playful at the same time. A Braxton-like march morphs into weird cocktail lounge swing. A solo track on ocarina. A stand-alone guitar + male vocal piece, which is actually quite beautiful. Conclusion: Aketagawa is for listeners with an accommodating sense of humor; hearing damage or complete loss might also be a plus when this record is spun. But make no mistake: this album is ALIVE. Aketagawa has a strange way of invigorating listeners with tolerant/perhaps slightly tone deaf ears.

5. Fly Me To The Moon
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Aketagawa's most pretty playing? Well, only if your definition of "pretty" is bashing the keys and "singing" over your own playing with such intensity that listeners might not be sure of what they're supposed to deal with. In other words, I love it.

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those Aketagawa LPs are rare. I only have the first one, and a pair of albums he did for Offbeat.

Takayanagi is a fave. Abe is indeed music for special occasions. 

Message to Chicago, Water Weed, The Masterpiece... all essential Toyozumi LPs. 2 to 10 Saxophone Adventure has eluded me in its original form but a reissue is in the works. Great stuff.

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40 minutes ago, clifford_thornton said:

Those Aketagawa LPs are rare.

I no longer collect vinyl, but I bet finding Aketa Disc stuff would be like trying to find original Saturn vinyl. Not easy!

Octave Lab reissued nearly all of the Aketa's Disk label on compact disc in 2019. They went out of print quickly. Two titles have since been repressed from the original batch, I think. The remastered sound on the compact discs, all things considered, is quite good; I think almost all Aketa's Disk records were recorded live.

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That 'Message To Chicago' looks very interesting.

Japanese Jazz trinity for me is  Yamamoto, Togashi and Oki.  I've not ventured very far beyond them and this thread could prove costly

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This thread has turned into a Recommendations thread. Whoops! (Oh well.)

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Just now, Late said:

This thread has turned into a Recommendations thread. Whoops! (Oh well.)

Nothing wrong with that...as long as my bank's not reading it too

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Just now, mjazzg said:

... as long as my bank's not reading it too.

The bank can always freeze your account if necessary. :D

Another album (non-Aketagawa) on Aketa's Disk is Masayuki Takayanagi's Angry Waves (the actual title is 850113):

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To me, this is Takayanagi's masterpiece. Granted, I haven't heard everything, but this record is beautiful in the most brooding, dark-energy sort of way. Never has a noise record (and I wouldn't actually identify this as a "noise record") sounded so musical. I'd give it a crown if I were contributing to the Penguin Guide. Certainly not for all listeners, and it can be an exhausting listen, but the depth of focus (at least to me) is amazing.

A gentler Takayanagi record, recorded not too long before he died, is on No Business Records. It should still be available on eBay.

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Posted (edited)

I just found out that Tak Shindo's brilliant Brass and Bamboo and Accent on Bamboo have been reissued as a twofer CD!

https://www.amazon.com/Shindo-Exciting-Big-Band-Standards-Oriental/dp/B00O2H8FZO/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=brass+and+bamboo+accent+tak+shindo&qid=1620412696&s=music&sr=1-1

Tak Shindo's masterpiece is Mganga!, which has recently been issued on both vinyl and CD from the original master tapes.  For the purposes of this thread, this album is more African than Japanese.

Read all about Tak here!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tak_Shindo

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Late said:

Great story! I fully understand what you mean by being "drawn into the mystique." Abe is almost the perfect character for such a setting. And, agreed, the multi-instrumentalism (particularly the harmonica) was perhaps not the best choice. I'm guessing he'd run out of his own vocabulary on the horns, much in a way, conversely, that Coltrane never ran out of vocabulary. (All those hours and years of practice were for a reason!)

Do you already have Yoshisaburo "Sabu" Toyozumi's Message To Chicago?

R-3861825-1570896353-6187.jpeg.jpg, b

The tracklist is:

1. Roscoe's Tune
2. Malachi's Tune
3. People In Sorrow

That gives you an idea of where his head was at: definitely an homage, but not fawning idolatry. I need to listen to it more! As for Aketagawa, make sure to check sound samples first. I don't mind his vocalizings (I happen to like Irène Aëbi, for context), but I can see how they'd drive most listeners insane. That said, I'd go for nearly everything on his Aketa's Disk label (though he's not on all the releases). As I hear his playing, it's more about breaking down inhibition — Aketagawa is no technician — as every (out-of-tune) note is bursting with wild emotion. I think players like Roland Kirk would have felt an affinity for Aketagawa. Monk may not have liked his playing, but I would still claim there's a direct line between the two.

May as well list [at least] five albums, in order of personal preference:

1. Aketa's Erotical Piano Solo & Grotesque Piano Trio
R-10040018-1490563892-2990.jpeg.jpg

Have to start with this one, perhaps because it's his first. I really don't think Aketagawa has a "best" record, but this debut will give you an idea of what you're in for.

2. Trio (this has a different title in Japanese, but I never remember it). How could a person not love the cover?
R-10040374-1490569492-9401.jpeg.jpg
This seems to follow up right where the first album left off.

3. Alone In Tokuyama (pictured above) Solo work. A Stevie Wonder cover. Aketagawa's grunting voice overwhelming his own piano playing. Perfection.

4. Shudan Seikatsu
R-10040826-1490579476-4400.jpeg.jpg

For me, this is Aketagawa's most "fun" album. But definitely listen to sound samples first. There's a vocalist here (I wish I could read Japanese) that will likely turn most listeners off right away. Her sense of pitch is, um, relative. But this record probably also has Aketagawa's piano in its most out-of-tune state, so pitch isn't really an issue (I guess). The vocalist's scatting is so bad that it's wonderful. In a drunken state, one can even hail it as the best singing EVER. (At least I do.) The whole record is a crazy swirl, serious and playful at the same time. A Braxton-like march morphs into weird cocktail lounge swing. A solo track on ocarina. A stand-alone guitar + male vocal piece, which is actually quite beautiful. Conclusion: Aketagawa is for listeners with an accommodating sense of humor; hearing damage or complete loss might also be a plus when this record is spun. But make no mistake: this album is ALIVE. Aketagawa has a strange way of invigorating listeners with tolerant/perhaps slightly tone deaf ears.

5. Fly Me To The Moon
R-8719265-1467289939-3434.jpeg.jpg

Aketagawa's most pretty playing? Well, only if your definition of "pretty" is bashing the keys and "singing" over your own playing with such intensity that listeners might not be sure of what they're supposed to deal with. In other words, I love it.

What a great post. Thanks so much.

I know, love, but don't own that Toyozumi, which I think I first heard about on this forum. It's basically perfect for me.

Thanks for the brilliant write ups of the Aketagawas. Unexpectedly, I note that your number one selection is actually available to stream. Possibly streaming takes the magic out of it, but that's my listening for tomorrow sorted at least.

2 hours ago, mjazzg said:

That 'Message To Chicago' looks very interesting.

Japanese Jazz trinity for me is  Yamamoto, Togashi and Oki.  I've not ventured very far beyond them and this thread could prove costly

The Sabu is recommended, for sure. It is exactly as described above.

Who is the Yamamoto you mention? Houzan? The only record of his that I know is Ginkai, and I'd be interested in learning more.

Throw in some Yosuke Yamashita trio I think, and that's my own current hierarchy too.

1 hour ago, Teasing the Korean said:

I just found out that Tak Shindo's brilliant Brass and Bamboo and Accent on Bamboo have been reissued as a twofer CD!

https://www.amazon.com/Shindo-Exciting-Big-Band-Standards-Oriental/dp/B00O2H8FZO/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=brass+and+bamboo+accent+tak+shindo&qid=1620412696&s=music&sr=1-1

Tak Shindo's masterpiece is Mganga!, which has recently been issued on both vinyl and CD from the original master tapes.  For the purposes of this thread, this album is more African than Japanese.

Read all about Tak here!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tak_Shindo

Wasn't Shindo American? 

I'm enjoying the idea of queuing Tak Shindo up with Masayuki Takayanagi. That would be a fun evening. I'm not sure what sort of cocktail that mash up would merit. Possibly curdled Baileys and tears, on a rum base.

Edited by Rabshakeh

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10 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

Wasn't Shindo American? 

Yes, he was an American, born in California, but he retained throughout his life a strong cultural connection to Japan, which informed much of his music.  

I read a scholarly article on Shindo several years ago, and his daughter indicated that as Shindo grew older, he became increasingly "Japanese" from a cultural standpoint.  

Either way, I think there were few Japanese American musicians at that time who aimed to create that sort of east/west fusion, at least few who had record deals and the budgets for ensembles as large as those on the aforementioned albums.  So, I thought he was worth mentioning in the context of the conversation for that reason.  

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Posted (edited)

One artist who appears rarely on this forum is Masahiko Satoh. 

He's one of those musicians from Japan who flowered in the 70s and 80s across styles and who, as a result, left a fairly inaccessible discography that I have never known where to start with.

Edited by Rabshakeh

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28 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

I'm enjoying the idea of queuing Tak Shindo up with Masayuki Takayanagi. That would be a fun evening. I'm not sure what sort of cocktail that mash up would merit. Possibly curdled Baileys and tears, on a rum base.

Ha! I love TTK's cocktail recommendations. I used to like to play Albert Ayler back-to-back with June Christy. I thought I was being oh-so subversive!

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Posted (edited)

Let's not forget Naozumi Yamamoto!

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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30 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

Throw in some Yosuke Yamashita Trio I think, and that's my own current hierarchy too.

I will buy anything that the Yosuke Yamashita Trio recorded. That first album from 1969 still gives me chills. Yamashita after that trio ... I'm not familiar with.

1 minute ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Let's not forget Naozumi Yamamoto!

Heckyeah. I'm just now exploring that world ... while simultaneously trying not to spend.

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2 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Let's not forget Naozumi Yamamoto!

 

Is the second the one with the chipmunk cheeks?

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1 minute ago, Rabshakeh said:

Is the second the one with the chipmunk cheeks?

Yes, the guy who goes crazy over the aroma of rice cooking!

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I have bad form with forcing well meaning onlookers to watch Seijun Suzuki films. My wife has learned to tolerate them.

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2 minutes ago, Late said:

Heckyeah. I'm just now exploring that world ... while simultaneously trying not to spend.

Yes, 1960s Japanese Yakuza films are incredible!

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But what cocktail do you drink when you watch them? 

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17 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

One artist who appears rarely on this forum is Masahiko Satoh

He's one of those musicians from Japan who flowered in the 70s and 80s across styles and who, as a result, left a fairly inaccessible discography that I have never known where to start with.

Rab,

I'm partial to A Path Through Haze, a collaboration with Attila Zoller from 1972:

R-2414444-1369592882-6741.jpeg.jpg

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