Jazzman follow up their sublime Islam-focused collection of Spiritual Jazz with a two-part survey of sounds from the far east (this is part one). It’s no secret that Japan’s jazz obsession runs deep. The music exploded there during an increased American presence following World War II, and by 1980 Japan was the largest per capita market for jazz records in the world. BBE’s J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969-84 (highly recommended) is a great primer for the sound, but this collection goes a little deeper, focusing on the “esoteric, modal and progressive.” Opening track “Kumo No Ita” by Mitsuaki Kanno says it all; a sweeping epic with trumpet, guitar, flute, cello, two basses and three saxophones all dueling over soulful piano chords and a funky, rolling beat for 14 life-affirming minutes. Tadao Hayashi’s “My Favorite Things” reconstructs the house that Trane built with some divine harp strings replacing the G.O.A.T.’s tenor. Koichi Matsukaze’s “Under Construction” and Shungo Sawada’s “Footprint” are on the funkier / groovier side, with Takeo Moriyama’s “East Plants,” Sadao Watanabe’s “Ragam Sinthubairavi” and especially New Direction For The Arts’ “Sun In The East” in full pursuit of the spirit. Minoru Maraoka’s “Positive & Negative” strikes the perfect balance between spiritual and funky, rolling out some divine koto and breathy flute over a seriously deadly bassline (killer drum solo too). 8 tracks altogether, pressed on double vinyl and housed in high-quality textured gatefold with obi strip, extensive essays in both English and Japanese, original album art and liner notes for each recording. Recommended.
- double vinyl pressing
- deluxe textured gatefold jacket
- obi strip
- printed inner sleeves
- extensive liner notes + essays
- music label: Jazzman 2018
reviewed by sunrise mart 06/2018