The vast sea of J-Jazz can be hard to navigate, but this is as good a place as any to start. While American players were being swept into the splintered spirtual jazz, fusion and jazz-funk scenes in the 70s, Japanese players stayed busy perfecting and combing over the harmonic possibilities of post-bop and modal jazz. On Ryo Fukui’s debut session as a bandleader, he tackles a handful of standards, making them sound humongous despite playing in the pared-down trio format ‘longside Satoshi Denpo on bass and Toshinori Fukui on skins. Check out their dextrous take of “It Could Happen To You,” or the incredibly moving rendition of Trane’s “I Want To Talk About You.” This recording of “Autumn Leaves” might be the definitive version for our ears. One of the finest moments on offer is a cover of j-jazz contemporary Hideo Ichikawa’s avant-garde “Early Summer,” first recorded just two years prior - Ryo’s huge chords, Denpo’s insane handling of the bass and a jaw-dropping drum solo from Toshinori are quite literally soundtracking our early summer over here. If the first five tunes pass your jazz snob checklist, consider the lone original composition “Scenery:” calm, calculated, but dripping with soul. Once upon a time, this record was a secret weapon of j-jazz enthusiasts, but after people got hipped to it being sampled by the likes of Roni Size and Knxwledge over the years, original copies have crossed that inevitable $300 threshold. Rescued from obscurity by a newly-minted sister imprint of We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want (suggested subtitle: ‘but we only want to release Japanese records’) called We Release Jazz (lol); this pressing looks and sounds amazing. Recommended.
- black vinyl pressing
remastered at half-speed from the original analog tapes
- music label: We Release Jazz 2018
reviewed by sunrise mart 05/2018