Sunday, May 21, 2017

Takashi Kako, Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd - 1979 - El Al

Takashi Kako, Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd 
El Al

01. El Al I  7:38
02. El Al II  11:45
03. El Al III  8:34
04. El Al IV  10:40

Takashi Kako: p, celesta
Akira Sakata: as, bcl
Masahiko Togashi: dr, perc
New Herd:
Toshiuki Miyama: conductor
Koichi Ono, Natsuki Tamura, Masanobu Takei, Shigeru Kammori: tp
Tekuhiro Kataoka, Kenchi Tsunoda, Takeo Arai, Ryohu Imai: tb
Kazumi Oguro, Shinji Nakayama: as, cl, fl
Mamoru Mori, Norio Moriguchi: ts, cl, fl
Kenichi Tada: bs, bcl, fl
Kiyoshi Takano: p
Yasushi Fukushima: b
Yoshio Nakamura: ds

Recorded August 28, 29 & September 4, 1978 at Media Studio Tokyo
Produced by Toshiaki Sugimoto

Takashi Kako (born 31 January 1947, Osaka) is a Japanese pianist and composer, who works in both jazz and art-music idioms.

Kako began playing piano at eight years old and learned to play jazz while in his teens. He attended the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, receiving both his bachelor's (1965-1969) and master's in composition (1971) there. Upon graduating, he matriculated at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied composition under Olivier Messiaen; concurrently, he played jazz in clubs, beginning a long-term association with Kent Carter and Oliver Johnson as a trio. He played with Noah Howard, Masahiko Togashi, and Steve Lacy in the 1970s, and with Togashi again as a duo in the early 1980s. Starting in the mid-1980s, he increasingly moved toward playing solo piano, although he occasionally toured with ensembles as well.

Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd - 1977 - Orchestrane New Herd Plays John Coltrane

Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd
Orchestrane New Herd Plays John Coltrane

01. Impressions
02. Naima
03. Giant Steps
04. A Love Supreme

Miyama Toshiyuki leader/conductor
Yamaki Kozaburo guitar/arranger
Takeda Kazumi 1st tp
Kishi Yoshikazu 2nd tp
Yamaguchi Kojiro 3rd tp
Kamimori Shigeru: 4th tp
Kataoka Teruhiko 1st tb
Uetaka Masamichi 2nd tb
Shiomura Osamu 3rd tb
Fukushima Teruo btb
Suzuki Koji 1st as
Shirai Atsuo 2nd as
Mori Mamoru 1st ts
Nukita Shigeo 2nd ts
Tada Kenich bs
Takano Kiyoshi p
Fukushima Yasushi b
Nakamura Yoshio dr.

New Herd Play John Coltrane: the album subtitle is all you need to know. And it's big, bad, big-band brilliance. Just look at that line-up; four trumpets, four trombones, five saxes. Fasten your seat belt and hang on for the ride!

The three numbers on side one warm you up nicely, mixing some fine modal soloing with slick-smooth ensemble playing on those classic compositions. And then you're ready for side two: all four parts of A Love Supreme like you've never heard them before. Yamaki's charts are just superb. This is probably the best thing Miyama ever recorded with his New Herd. It's certainly one of my favorites – if only for that beautiful cover art. 

Toshiyuki Miyama & The New Herd - 1977 - Live! New Herd 76/45

Toshiyuki Miyama & The New Herd
Live! New Herd 76/45 

01. Theme From Ironside
02. Love Supreme Part 1
03. Love Supreme Part 2

conductor  – Toshiyuki Miyama
alto saxophone  – Kazuo Oguro, Shinji Nakayama
baritone saxophone  – Miki Matsui
tenor saxophone  – Kiyoshi Saito, Shoji Maeda
piano  – Yoshinobu Imashiro
guitar  – Kozaburo Yamaki
trombone  – Masamichi Uetaka, Seiichi Tokura, Takeshi Aoki, Teruhiko Kataoka
trumpet  – Bunji Murata, Kenichi Sano, Koji Hatori, Kunio Fujisaki
bass – Masao Kunisada
drums, percussion  – Nakamura Yoshio

Live recording, April 30, 1976, Mitaka City Auditorium Hall

 Here we have a great performance JAZZ FUNK cover to Rare groovy "Theme From Ironside".
Recorded "A Love Supreme" modal cover of John Coltrane are arranged in two parts (the drum solo of Part 2 is a masterpiece !!!).
DAM recording, meeting at Mitaka City Auditorium Hall, original live recording, April 30, 1976. Prestigious Japanese jazz Big Band, NEW HERD led by Toshiyuki Miyama, left behind him many of the  masterpieces.
DAM 45 rotation indeed sound quality. Japanese pressings are renowned for their superb sound quality, as well as the bonus of inner sheets often with full lyrics.

Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd - 1974 - New Herd

Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd 
New Herd

01. Theme 0:38
02. Donna Lee 5:35
03. Sniper's Snoose 5:56
04. Furisode (A Long-Sleeved-Kimono) 5:17
05. Kappa Shijo (A Poetic Sentiment For A Kappa) 10:30
06. La Fiesta 6:55
07. Theme 0:37

Recorded 27 September 1974 at Aoi Studio, Tokyo.
Commemorative reproduction of the performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1974.

In case one harbors any doubt about the kind of big–band Jazz championed by Toshiyuki Miyama’s Tokyo–based ensemble, the phrase “New Herd” should be a dead giveaway. The band is forged in the swaggering image of Woody Herman’s legendary Thundering Herds, an imprint that is quickly borne out on these two discs, recorded in 1974 and ’75, respectively. New Herd was produced in a Tokyo studio in September ’74 to commemorate the band’s well–received performance that year at the Monterey Jazz Festival; “A” Train, completed the following May (in the same studio but with an audience), has been reissued on CD to mark the centenary in April ’99 of Duke Ellington’s birth. Unfortunately, as both began life as vinyl LPs, their combined playing time (84:08) is only modestly beyond the limits of a single compact disc. The similarity to Herman is indelibly etched on “Donna Lee” and “Sniper’s Snoose,” the buoyant swingers that open New Herd. Woody would’ve loved ‘em, and so would Buddy Rich, as drummer Isao Yomoda is clearly one of his ardent disciples. The tempo (but not the intensity) slows for “Furisode” and “Kappa Shijo” before Chick Corea’s mercurial “La Fiesta” (with a galvanizing solo courtesy of pianist Kiyoshi Takano) and the New Herd’s theme song wrap up a brief but consistently rewarding session.

Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd - 1970 - Jaga Wa Hashitta

Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd 
Jaga Wa Hashitta (The Creature Called Man)

01. Toho Logo (0:13)
02. Theme for the Jaguar (1:25)
03. Prologue 1 (0:23)
04. Prologue 2 (0:08)
05. Approach (2:52)
06. Appearance (0:29)
07. Hunch (2:12)
08. The Cave (1:12)
09. Nancy's Tune (1:17)
10. The Press (0:23)
11. Bitch (0:39)
12. The Scope 1 (0:56)
13. The Scope 2 (1:53)
14. Piano Bar (2:05)
15. Nancy's Bossa (2:11)
16. Nancy's Fuga (1:52)
17. The Target 1 (1:12)
18. Sus (0:12)
19. Take Seven (4:53)
20. The Target 2 (4:47)
21. The Sniper (1:32)
22. Confront (0:56)
23. Ultimate (6:17)
24. Ending Logo (0:06)
25. OVV (0:12)

Original soundtrack of the 1970 Japanese movie Jaga wa Hashitta; music by Masahiko Sato and Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd
Stylistically it's like a tour of popular late-'60s sounds. Bossa, lounge, blaring horns, funky drums, echoes of Burt Bacharach, a rather blatant imitation of side one of Miles Davis's In a Silent Way, dramatic underscore as required.

I'm intrigued. I'd like to see the movie, whatever it is.

Toshiyuki Miyama & The New Herd - 1970 - Four Jazz Compositions Based On Japanese Classical Themes

Toshiyuki Miyama & The New Herd 
Four Jazz Compositions Based On Japanese Classical Themes

01. Mumyoju 10:44
02. Shirabyoshi 9:57
03. Ikisudama 10:20
04. Sensyuraku 13:38

Recorded on 12-14 August 1970

Toshiyuki Miyama is a key figure in Japanese progressive big band music. He started playing jazz with his band before WWII. After the war, his big band was a hot name in the US Navy clubs in Japan. His first recorded albums contained big band classics and popular tunes of the time up to the late 60s, when the avant-garde jazz invasion (mostly introduced by young Japanese jazzmen returning from jazz studies in the States) revolutionized the country's scene.

Starting in 1967-68, Miyama adapted a new sound playing with leading genre local musicians. "Four Jazz Compositions" is not his band's first advanced release, but one among a few very early such albums, and one of the rarest. Still, its rarity is not this album's main attraction (unless you are collector), the presented music is quite unique, even for that extremely advanced time.

It's a public secret that discussions about originality (or better to say its absence) in Japanese jazz had long decades of history. Here, on "Four Jazz Compositions", the listener will easily find some early evidence of what can be tagged as "original Japanese elements".

The album's opener, the ten-minute long "Mumyoju", is composed by Japanese leading avant-garde pianist and composer of the time, Masahiko Satoh, (he plays on it as well, but percussion, not piano). It begins with silence pierced with ascetic needles of percussion, minimal brass splashes and koto. Still silence (or "free air", as it is often called in Japanese avant-garde music) is the largest and most important composition component. The music here is near static, in moments meditative, but more often - quite dramatic and recalls early Western contemporary avant-garde compositions, just with an Eastern touch.

The second composition,"Shirabyoshi", opens as if it's just a continuation of the previous one, but very soon piano, bass and the brass section take their part - here one can be sure that all the Orchestra is in action. From meditative slow tempos, it grows fast to an orchestral jazz-rock sound, but on the four minute mark, Miyama cuts the sound. What follows sounds like a well arranged pop-tune, or movie soundtrack. It doesn't last long though, at the sixth minute the orchestra moves toward a full-bodied big band sound with a muscular rock-influenced rhythm section and brass fireworks. Growing tensions explode close to the ten minute mark and continues as nervous mid-tempo orchestral "Ikisudama", recalling a more contemporary avant-garde piece than any form of jazz. The listener shouldn't be bored though - somewhere in the middle the music somehow naturally transforms to a full bodied big band sound, something that could be played by Mingus. As if it would be not enough, the orchestra explodes with distorted sound, a lot of almost cacophonous brass soloing and at the end returns back to base - slow down till almost meditative, even if still nervous in moments, avant-garde chamber orchestra sound.

The fourth and final composition opens with a drum solo and rolls ahead as a tuneful richly brass arranged jazz-rock song, very cinematic, but still with some small distortions here and there. At the end this forty minute long album, it stays in your memory as a gallery of musical pictures, some more organically related than others, but never boring.

Scott, Yuize, Yamamoto - 1964 - Music For Zen Meditation

Scott, Yuize, Yamamoto 
Music For Zen Meditation

01. Is Not All One 3:50
02. The Murmuring Sound Of The Mountain Stream 8:05
03. A Quivering Leaf, Ask The Winds 2:30
04. After The Snow, The Fragrance 7:00
05. To Drift Like Clouds 1:38
06. Za-Zen (Meditation) 2:05
07. Prajna-Paramita-Hridaya Sutra (Sutra Chant) 7:10
08. Sanzen (Moment Of Truth) 6:45
09. Satori (Enlightenment) 5:25

Tony Scott - clarinet
Shinichi Yuize - koto
Hozan Yamamoto - shakuhachi

After stints at Juilliard and in the Army during the '40s, clarinetist Tony Scott rose to prominence in the '50s as a respected jazz soloist. His resumé at the time included work with Sarah Vaughan, Ben Webster, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Billie Holiday, and Claude Thornhill, among many others. In addition to these sidemen dates, Scott also cut several solo albums. His subtle phrasing eventually found a perfect niche in the smattering of meditation and yoga dates he cut in the mid-'60s for Verve. Fueled by his burgeoning interest in Far Eastern culture, Scott hooked up with two Japanese master instrumentalists for this classic 1964 date. And while Scott, koto player Shinichi Yuize, and shakuhachi player Hozan Yamamoto produce nine cuts that sound classically Japanese and really nothing like jazz, they do actually improvise pretty much throughout the entire set. If you'd like to levitate to music with some unexpected twists, then Scott's Music for Zen Meditation is for you.

Hozan Yamamoto & Masabumi Kikuchi - 1970 - Ginkai

Hozan Yamamoto & Masabumi Kikuchi 

01. Prologue
02. Silver World
03. Stone Garden Of Ryoan Temple
04. A Heavy Shower
05. Sawanose
06. Epilogue

Bass – Gary Peacock
Drums – Hiroshi Murakami
Piano – Masabumi Kikuchi
Shakuhachi [Bamboo-Flute] – Hozan Yamamoto

Recorded October 15 & 20, 1970

A brilliant album by Hozan Yamamoto – a flute player with a great ear for mixing traditional sounds and modern jazz! The set's a suite of sorts – performed by a cool quartet with Yamamoto on bamboo flute, plus Masabumi Kikuchi on piano, Gary Peacock on bass, and Hiroshi Murakami on drums – all with a rich sense of poetry and feeling, that newly expressive sound that Japanese jazz hit as the 70s approached! Yamamoto's flute work alone is worth the price of admission – but alongside Kikuchi's well-timed (and toned) piano lines, and Peacock's roundly sensitive bass, the instrument is even more brilliant – heard on tracks that include "Silver World", "Stone Garden Of Ryoan Temple", "A Heavy Shower", and "Sawanose". 

Hozan Yamamoto is a great bamboo flute player; his skill on the flute is bar none. No wonder he's the most forefront aspect of this record; the flute really helps give this an atmosphere that gives off vibes of ancient Japanese history and mythology to me. I just love how mystical the atmosphere is; it's very relaxing, yet also full of wonder and curiosity, too. It's also a really unique thing to hear on a jazz record; very rarely do I hear wind instruments that aren't saxophones on any jazz record.
Doesn't mean the other players are bad, too; Gary Peacock and Hiroshi Murakami do a fine job on the rhythm section. bringing a more jazzy sound to this record. As does pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, who's the real genius behind this record. He often writes the majority of the songs with the Yo scale, which is one of the two pentatonic scales that's found in Japanese Classical genres like Shomyo and Gagaku and also in Japanese Folk Music. It has no minor notes, unlike the In scale, which is the other pentatonic scale used in much Japanese Classical and Folk Music except Gagaku. The lack of writing in the In scale likely helped Kikuchi in creating a record that showcases a very celestial-like, soothing atmosphere similar to some of the more spiritual jazz records that I've heard from artists like John and Alice Coltrane, for example. I'm glad Kikuchi did that, too, for a big use of the In scale would've made this record slightly unpleasant and unfitting for the lightness that this record is full of.
As great of a bamboo player as Yamamoto is, it's Kikuchi's writing that really helped make this one of the great Post Bop records for me. Of course, I'm a sucker for Post Bop, which is possibly my favorite Jazz sub-genre, but even so, I highly recommend this album not just to Post Bop fans, but to fans of Jazz music who want a unique, infrequently used sound. It's a very gorgeous, restful record.

Hiroshi Suzuki - 1975 - Cat

Hiroshi Suzuki 

01. Shrimp Dance 7:02
02. Kuro To Shiro 11:41
03. Walk Tall 10:14
04. Cat 5:27
05. Romance 5:54

Bass – Kunimitsu Inaba
Drums – Akira Ishikawa
Keyboards, Electric Piano – Hiromasa Suzuki
Saxophone – Takeru Muraoka
Trombone – Hiroshi Suzuki

Recorded at Nippon-Columbia Daiichi Studio, on Oct 8-10, 1975.

More super rare J Jazz making a first appearance in blogland and this is an absolute beauty made up of 5 long cuts that hit the perfect balance between jazz and fusion.Acoustic bass meshed with subtle funky drums topped with lashings of Rhodes,trombone and sax deliver a really stretched out understated rolling groove.
The album just grows and grows with repeated listening and it's a big favourite over here at Bacoso's Big Top - no surprise that it's
A great bit of electric jazz from the Japanese scene of the 70s – an album that easily rivals the best CTI work in the US at the time! Trombonist Hiroshi Suzuki heads up a quintet here – one that's heavy on electric piano and keyboards, played in a stretched-out sort of groove that reminds us a lot of the energy on Freddie Hubbard's funkiest albums from the same period. The tracks are all quite long – and step out with a wonderfully rhythmic sensibility – spare at times, and very focused on the right rolling approach to the groove. Suzuki's trombone solos are matched by some equally great sax work from Takeru Muraoka – and rhythm is from Kunimitsu Inaba on bass and Akira Ishikawa on drums. Filled with great breaks and laidback jazzy grooves 

Hiroshi Sato - 1979 - Orient

Hiroshi Sato 

01. カリンバナイト
02. 孫悟空
03. 月の子の名前はレオ
04. ドンカマ
01. 浄土
02. 空飛ぶじゅうたん
03. ピクニック
04. ひかる風..

Backing Vocals – Masaki Ueda
Bass – Haruomi Hosono, Koki Ito
Drums – Jun Aoyama, Robert Brill, Tatsuo Hayashi, Tatsuo Hayashi, Yukari Uehara
Guitar – Shigeru Suzuki, Yuji Toriyama
Keyboards, Synthesizer – Hidehiko Koike
Percussion – Pecker
Vocals, Chorus, Keyboards, Kalimba, Drums – Hiroshi Sato

Synth-funk exotica at its finest. Hiroshi Sato (sometimes "Satoh") seems to slip through the cracks, though he was arguably one of the most important Japanese keyboardists of his time. He played keyboards on almost every Tatsuro Yamashita record of the 70s and 80s, and contributed to much of Hosono's solo work, including the beloved Cochin Moon. Unsurprisingly, Hosono makes some appearances here on bass. Sato died in Yokohama on October 24th, 2012. His only daughter, Chirudo, had to say of her father:

His life’s work was pouring his everything enthusiastically into music. He also loved his studio in Yokohama, putting in speakers and installing the equipment and synthesizers one by one. He fell down and breathed his last breath in that studio while he was making music. He was sixty-five years old, and an acute dissecting aneurysm of the aorta was the cause of his death. However, this is the least important aspect of his passing. Despite an instant death, I believe he knew the time had come, because he was sitting cross-legged with his hands joined together, as if practicing Zen meditation. He was alone, but not lonely, because whenever he was surrounded by music he was happy, as if he were an innocent child. He lived life as a musician and lived as a musician with his whole life.
Orient is mostly instrumental, with vocals by Hiroshi Sato and Masaki Ueda on "Son Go Kuw," "Tsuki No Ko No Namae Wa Leo," and "Bright Wind." Cheeky and heady, with immaculate percussion. Lightyears ahead of its time. Thanks for everything, Hiroshi.

Hiroshi Sato - 1977 - Time

Hiroshi Sato 

01. Time 0:55
02. Joint 4:19
03. Minami Kaikisen 4:20
04. Choit 2:41
05. Yamate Hotel 4:00
06. Bad Janky Blues 3:52
07. Mezame 0:30
08. Akanegumo-No Machi 3:00
09. Black Coffee 3:25
10. Island Fantasy 2:40
11. Kage-Ni Mukatte 5:23
12. Saigo-No Tejina 3:42
13. Merry-Go-Round 2:43

Hiroshi Sato: music, arrangements, producer, lyrics, piano, electric piano, Clavinet, organ, kalimba, bongo, synthesizer, mini moog, claves, melodica, Solina, Hammond organ, electric guitar, percussion

Shuichi Murakami: drums
Shigeru Inoue: drums
Tatsuo Hayashi: drums
Koji Takeda: drums
Kenji Takamizu: bass
Haruomi Hosono: bass
Akihiro Tanaka: bass
Rei Ohara: bass
Shinji Shiotsugu: electric guitar
Hirofumi Tokutake: electric guitar
Kenichi Inoue: electric guitar
Hiroki Komazawa: pedal steel guitar
Chuei Yoshikawa: acoustic guitar
Taisuke Endo: percussion
Nobu Sai: percussion
Pecker: percussion
Akira Nishitani Group: strings
Time Five: chorus, vocal arrangements
Mama Jun: chorus
Ryuichiro Senoo: bass harp
Ken Muraoka: tenor saxophone
Akira Tanabe: alto saxophone
Akio Mitsui: trumpet
Eiji Arai: trombone

Hiroshi Sato's a hell of a keyboardist here – working on a range of sweet electric keys, while also singing a bit – although the album's more of a fusion album overall, with vocals thrown in for nicely soulful touches! Sato's got a different vibe than some of his Japanese fusion contemporaries – maybe sharper and more focused, but no less soulful – and he really hits a great groove throughout, even allowing his vocals to be a bit processed and electrified too – which, given the difference in language, almost makes them come across like an instrument to our ears. Titles include "Time", "Joint", "Choit", "Yamate Hotel", "Bad Janky Blues", "Kage Ni Mukatte", and "Island Fantasy"

Haruomi Hosono and Tatsuo Hayashi 2nd album "Time" with the atmosphere of the strongest rhythm section in the city and the feel of Kansai blues scenes such as Ryuichiro Seno and Shinji Shioji re-emerged by remastering by himself. Five songs have been added as a bonus track from 1st album "SUPER MARKET". Haruomi Hosono vs. Hiroshi Sato Long interview and liner notes that the person himself took a pen also included.

Hiroshi Sato - 1976 - Super Market

Hiroshi Sato 
Super Market

01. 私の彼氏は200歳
02. レインボー・シーライン
03. F. W. Y.
04. 用意はいいかな
05. Night In L.A.
06. High Times
07. いとしのマリー
08. スーパー・マーケット
09. パラダイス
10. For Jun

Acoustic Guitar – Dan Sawyer
Backing Vocals – Dear Chikako, Dennis Dreith, Hiroshi Sato, Laila Jacobs, Miss Kobori, Takashi Yamamoto
Bass – Marty David
Drums – Joe Correro
Electric Guitar – Amos Garrett, Bill House, Chris Pinnick, Dan Sawyer
Harmonica – Stanley Behrens
Keyboards – Hiroshi Sato
Lead Vocals – Hiroshi Sato
Marimba – Steve Forman
Mellotron – Skip Konte
Percussion – Joe Lala
Saxophone – Bob Crosby, Dennis Dreith
Semi-Acoustic Guitar – Tim Ray
Talkbox – Hiroshi Sato
Trombone – Bob Payne
Trumpet – Joe Romano

Hiroshi Sato went to Los Angeles and used some of the best studio musicians in L.A. to record this album. Engineered by Roger Mayer.

Some readers may know the late Japanese pianist Hiroshi Sato from his excellent Awakening record with Wendy Matthews, or his work with folks like Haruomi Hosono and Tatsuro Yamashita (who, according the Japanese Wiki, called him Japan's greatest pianist). We have some other great, if more subdued albums of his however, starting with Super Market, his 1976 debut. There are some funky jams here, but nothing approaching the heights of the best Boogie or City Pop sounds that would appear in the next few years in Japan, in our opinion. What we're really digging are the Wilson-influenced, lightly fusion/"island sounds" rays caught from tracks like "レインボー・シーライン" and "Night in L.A.".

Sons Of Sun - 1972 - The Pirate Kid's Adventure

Sons Of Sun 
The Pirate Kid's Adventure (Kaizoku Kid No Boken)

01. Snow Light
02. Suburban Railway
03. To Hitomi
04. Dusk
05. The Pirate Kid's Adventures
06. Meeting
07. Vargant Elegy
08. Solitary Journey
09. Bare Backs Of Mystery
10. The Daughter And Two People
11. Sleep Doll

Keyboard - Hiro Yanagida
Drums - Kiyoshi Tanaka
E.Guitar - Kazuyuki Nagaoka
E.Bass - Hideaki Takebe
Vocal - Mao

This perfect album was release in 1972 with Hiro Yanagida on keyboard. Other musicians are not well known. As I know some of them were session musicians in different times and that the lyrics for this album were written by Takashi Matsumoto (from Apryl Fool and Happy End).
You will not find here a prog or psych. There's a quite interesting album with. The mood of this album is so positive that seems it was written for kids or all musicians here remembered their kidness :) But nevertheless it's a brilliant album which is rather to listen to!

Hiro Yanagida - 1971 - Hiro Yanagida

Hiro Yanagida
Hiro Yanagida

The Butcher 2:59
The Murder In The Midnight 8:19
Fantasia 5:03
Good Morning People 2:59
Always 2:39
The Skyscraper 42ndF 3:56
My Dear Mary 2:10
Melancholy 4:27

Bass – Keiju Ishikawa
Electric Guitar – Kimio Mizutani (tracks: 1 to 5, 6 to 8)
Keyboards – Hiro Yanagida
Percussion – Kiyoshi Tanaka (tracks: 2, 3, 6, 8), Kyosuke Tokano (tracks: 1, 4, 5, 7)

Hiro Yanagida was the keyboardist for two early Japanese psych bands such, Foodbrain and Love Live Life + One. His eponymous solo album from 1971 is typical of the early Japanese psych bands though sometimes showing a bit of progressive influence (such as hints of the Nice/Emerson between jams). Driving, energetic blues based hard rock/psych jams with Yanagida's swirling Hammond trading licks with Kimio Mizutani's blistering guitar leads. Of particular note is the eight minute "The Murder in the Midnight" with Yanagida turning in some fine Hammond work. Flute and sax make appearances on a few cuts. One or two songs, such as "My Dear Mary" (which feature's Speed, Glue and Shinki's Joey Smith on vocals) are in the pop vein, much of this album is raw blues/psych but it comes off as a mixed bag.

Hiro Yanagida – this keyboardist really got around! He was in Apryl Fool, Foodbrain, Masahiko Satoh & Sound Brakers, Love Live Life + One, and also played on Shinki Chen’s solo album. Throughout this time he was putting out solo albums with some of the same musicians, such as Kimio Mizutani [see above]. His debut was ‘Milk Time’ [Liberty, 1970], which has a cool photo of a stern-looking gorilla on the cover, done by the same artist who did the Foodbrain album cover. The backing band included Hiro Tsunoda from Foodbrain, Strawberry Path and Flied Egg [see above], guitarist Kimio Mizutani and electric violinist Hiroki Tamaki [see below], as well as flautist Nozumu Nakatani and bassist Keiju Ishikawa [who later played with Akira Ito – see below]. The music is in part similar to Foodbrain, but more varied, with lighter, jaunty short tracks and some tripped out sounds.
This was followed by ‘Hiro Yanagida’ [Atlantic, 1971], with great cartoon psychedelic artwork. He’s again joined by Kimio Mizutani, and Joey Smith from Speed, Glue & Shinki [see above] sings on one track, a silly doo-wop ballad! The album as a whole covers slightly similar territory to that of ‘Milk Time’, though more accomplished, and some of the mellower keyboard-oriented stuff here is a bit more experimental and progressive. One track reminds me of Supersister and oddly, Stereolab from more than 20 years later! His 3rd album, ‘Hiro’ [URC, 1972], seems to be obscure and I can’t find any information about it. ‘Hirocosmos’ [CBS, 1973] was reputedly another great album, in a more progressive vein. There are a few more album which I know nothing about - ‘UFO’ [CBS, 1978], ‘Shichi Sai No Rojin Tengoku’ [label? year?] and ‘Ma-Ya’ [Substance, 2003]. I’ve seen another album listed, ‘Planets in Rock Age [1971], but I don’t know how that fits in or if it’s just rumour. ‘Milk Time’ was reissued on CD by P-Vine, but appears to be out of print; ‘Hiro Yanagida’ and ‘Hirocosmos’ have been reissued on CD by Showboat and are tricky to track down outside of Japanese retailers.
Yanagida played on J.A. Caesar’s ‘Matihedeyou Syowosuteyo’ [and probably other Caesar albums – see above], and also recorded some material with Tokyo Kid Brothers.

Keyboard player and prime mover Hiro Yanagida began his musical life in Ground Sounds outfit The Floral, before founding the considerably cooler Apryl Fool in 1968. However, Yanagida is best known for his contributions to the so-called ‘Super Session’ period of 1970-72, during which time he made a couple of flawed-but-interesting solo LPs and contributed to a whole slew of experimental Japanese albums, including Foodbrain’s A SOCIAL GATHERING project, Shinki Chen’s solo LP SHINKI CHEN & HIS FRIENDS, Masahiko Satoh’s marvellous AMALGAMATION album, and the stupendous and original free soul of LOVE WILL MAKE A BETTER YOU, by Love Live Life +1. The keyboardist also found time to contribute a couple of tunes to some Tokyo Kid Brothers plays, and MATIHEDEYOU SYOWOSUTEYO by J.A. Caesar. Nowadays, Yanagida’s debut solo LP MILK TIME suffers mightily in comparison to its obvious inspirational blueprint, Frank Zappa’s HOT RATS. But there are still some excellent excessive Jean Luc Ponty violin moments from guest Hiroki Tamaki, especially on the weighty title track. His second self-titled album was considerably less interesting, though, even containing a daft doowop sung by Joey Smith of Speed, Glue & Shinki. I know nothing of his work thereafter. 

Second album of Hiro Yanagida is almost equally good as the debut one. "7sai no Rojin Tengoku" (which means "Elderly Person Heaven Of Seven Years". This album is also known under simple title: "Hiro Yanagida") doesn't bring any significant development compared to "Milk Time", but I liked previous record so much that any change in artistic direction wasn't necessary for me. We can find here lots of psychedelic organ and fuzzed electric guitar solos, jazzy drums, some spaced-out experiments (but almost never unlistenable noodling or quirky tape effects like in some other Japanese albums from early days prog...). Poor enjoyment of playing for musicians and listening for prog/psych fans. The only major difference compared to "Milk Time" is lack of violin, however Yanagida and Mizutani (along with with flute, cello & sax players) filled the disk space with enough instrumental virtuosity to keep everybody happy.

1. "The Butcher" - album begin with pulsating Hammond organ which after awhile provides a bit circus-like theme. After 50 seconds Kimio Mizutani joins with very fuzzed guitar and together with noisy-sounding flute creates merry-go-round crazy motif. After several seconds Hiro presents another organ solo, followed by great guitar one. About 2nd minute flutist blows his head off to play some mad whistles...and in the end we can listen to another Hammond solo. Only these guys know how to put so many different ideas to less than 3 minutes composition and make it good enough to not sound like total mess. Splendid beginning!

2. "The Murder In The Midnight" - if you liked "Running Shirts Long" from the previous album you'll also love this one. Maybe it lacks such catchy, main-riff like "Running..." but it's still decent 8-minutes long instrumental with hundreds of extremely fuzzed guitar and inspired organ solos. But the most important is that Seiji Tanaka (or maybe Kyosuke Tokano plays in this one?) all the time keeps the high-dynamic rhythm so you can't be bored even for a minutes. This is truly magnificent, hard as steel psychedelic jam with powerful instrumentals showcase. It can be easily compared to the best moments of Food Brain's sole album. The only complaint I have is about it's sudden ending, which sounds like somebody just cut the tape off and that's it.

3. "Fantasia" - one of the most beautiful composition starts unusual (but what is "usual" for these guys, heh??) with soft flute melody based on harpsichord & cello background. Really gorgous fragment. In 2nd minute Mizutani starts one of his best, passionate electric guitar solo in the vain of Jimi Hendrix (in his most peaceful moments) or Andrew Latimer (from band "Camel" which didn't even exist back then...). Solo is 3 minutes long but never becomes boring. I like that Yanagida always leaves lots of space for his fellow musicians so his solos albums aren't simple organ/piano show-offs.

4. "Good Morning People" - I simply love this marvelous tune! It's incredibly uplifting composition with fabulous sparkling piano (or maybe it's harpsichord or vibraphone?? really doesn't matter), discreet background organ and fantastic fuzzed guitar "eruptions". The main melody sounds kinda childish...but man, you will can't stop taping your foot when you listened to this one! Performance is very tight and even during two guitar solos musicians don't lose the main motif at all. (P.S. Take note Keiju Ishikawa's "woo-woo" bass lines!)

5. "Always" - unfortunately with this track Hiro & Co. seems to lack steam a bit. "Always" is only simple ballad based on piano and discreet acoustic guitar licks. The only interesting thing is that Hiro Yanagida sings (good info for non-english lyrics haters: just like in all other Hiro's albums everything is sang in Shakespeare's' language here) this one by himself and his vocal isn't that bad in fact, only near the end a bit too high-pitched.

6. "The Skyscraper 42nd F" - by far this is the weakest track on this album. Almost 4 minutes of psychotic flute motif just drills a hole in your brain and Hiro seems to randomly hit his piano's keys. And the most horrifying is that all this mess is played louder and faster creating roller coaster (anti) atmosphere. When I talk about over-experimented Japanese prog, I just think about staff like this. Skip, skip...

7. "My Dear Mary" - while most of fans of serious music will call this a cheesy crap and unnecessary filler, I have to admit that I like this "outrageous" ditty. This doo-wop/50' rock'n'roll 2-minutes tribute is just hilarious and so out-of place...that immediately I think it's perfectly IN-PLACE on Yanagida's album! Joey Smith sounds like some wanky Elvis Presley imitator and saxophone solo is ultimately corny as much as it could be in 1971 when this album was produced. What they were thinking?! But heh, I somehow like it, sincerely!

8. "Melancholy" - as title suggest this one is melancholic mid-tempo ballad with backing, Baroque-like harpsichord and fantastic organ waves, especially in closing 2 minutes, atmospheric solo. Yanagida sings again in this one and his voice sounds good, somehow in heavenly/angelic sort of way. Only bass guitar is unfortunately strangely mixed to be up-front and creates rather unpleasant rumpling sound. But it's only small complaint and this fault probably exists because of not so good master tapes' condition.

In general "Elderly Person Heaven Of Seven Years" I can recommend to all fans of 70' psychedelic rock with jazzy hints who enjoy good, spaced-out organ and guitar solos presented in dynamic, groovy compositions along with melancholic balladry, always with decent sense of melody. If you like this staff I can also recommend you other projects featuring Hiro Yanagida: Food Brain, Apryl Fool, Shinki Chen & Friends and - if you can endure very experimental approach - also Love Live Life+ and Masahiko Satoh ("Amalgamation" album). To some extent you can be also interested in more hard rockish but equally good in guitar/organ soling bands Strawberry Path and Flied Egg (both led by Shigeru Narumo).

After this album Hiro recorded another 2 solo albums: simple called "Hiro"(1972) and "Hirocosmos"(1973). While I've never listened to the first one (seems to be very obscure), "Hirocosmos" is a completely different album than its predecessors. Psychedelic rock is almost completely gone in his last effort and jazz tendencies are the most evident. Hiro also mainly uses synthesizer, mellotron and electric piano instead of his famous Hammond organ .

Fumio Karashima - 1983 - Round Midnight

Fumio Karashima 
Round Midnight

01. 'Round Midnight
02. Autumn Leaves
03. Wise One
04. Oleo
05. Nica's Dream
06. In Your Own Sweet Way
07. Footprints

Bass – Ikuo Sakurai
Drums – Motohiko Hino
Guitar – Larry Coryell
Piano – Fumio Karashima

Recorded on August 10 & 11, 1983 at Sound Inn. Originally released on Full House

Fumio Karashima - 1978 - Hot Islands

Fumio Karashima
Hot Islands

01. By Road 4:13
02. Hot Islands 6:31
03. Chardin Square 9:01
04. American Tango 7:33
05. Breeze 5:13
06. Merry-Go-Round 7:05

Bass, Electric Bass – Miroslav Vitous
Drums – George Ohtsuka
Keyboards – Fumio Karashima
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Mabumi Yamaguchi

Recorded November 8, 1978 at Victor Studio, Tokyo, and November 11 & 14, 1978 at Onkio Haus, Tokyo.

Fumio Karashima - 1977 - Landscape

Fumio Karashima 

01. Revlis
02. Tears
03. Landscape
04. The Fall
05. In My Usual Way

Bass – George Mraz
Drums – Motohiko Hino
Piano – Fumio Karashima

Recorded October 23, 1977 At MEDIA Studio, Tokyo. Manufactured & Disturbed By TRIO Records.

Fumio Karashima - 1977 - Gathering

Fumio Karashima

01. Gathering 9:07
02. Gringo 8:14
03. Tones For Joan's Bones 6:30
04. Sophia 6:17
05. Once We Loved 7:11

Bass – Isao Suzuki
Drums – George Otsuka
Piano – Fumio Karashima

Recorded February 1 & 2, 1977 at Epicurus Studio, Tokyo.

Gathering is the then up-and-coming younb pianist Fumio Karashima's first leader album for the Three Blind Mice label. With the help of great bassist Isao Suzuki and superb drummer George Otsuka (who was at the time Karashima's employer and band leader), Karashima had a very strong showing on this album, displaying his bouncy sense of swing, sophistication and lyricism.

Mostly because of the wonderful content, and partly because of the attractively desinged cover, this album became a big hit and put Karashima's name firmly on the radar screen of Japanese jazz fans.

Fumio Karashima TrioGathering Rare Japanese Audiophile LP released in 1977 on Three Blind Mice Records. Cat: TBM3004.A first class jazz recording from the young virtuoso Fuimo Karashima that is both refreshing and enjoyable! Karashima has an incredible command of the piano that is comparable to the greatest American Jazz players of the 70s, with a sense of poise, timing, and creative expression that's heard beautifully throughout the entire album.

A first class jazz recording from the young virtuoso Fuimo Karashima That is both refreshing and enjoyable! Karashima has an incredible command of the piano That is comparable to the greatest American jazz players of the 70s, with a sense of poise, timing, and creative expression that's beautifully heard throughout the entire album.  

Fumio Karashima - 1975 - Piranha

Fumio Karashima

01. Little Island (Karashima) - 8:58
02. Lament (Johnson) - 10:44
03. Piranha (Karashima) - 7:38
04. Dedicated to You (Cahn) - 5:04
05. Blue-Th-Ree (Karashima) - 8:04

Fumio Karashima - piano
Isao Suzuki - bass
Jimmy Hopps - drums

Japanese jazz pianist and composer. Born March 9, 1948 in Oita, Japan; died February 24, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. 

After moving to Tokyo, he became a member of George Ohtsuka's group. On the occasion of performing with Elvin Jones in 1978, Karashima became a member of The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine and played in the band for six years. From that time onwards, he was actively performing in the jazz scene in the U.S. and Europe, and established a solid position as one of the top pianists in the world. 

He also began a friendship with the same generation jazz great Motohiko Hino, and formed a trio with him. After that, he broke new ground in playing the solo piano, and continued to develop his skill as a solo pianist. In 1988, he formed the Fumio Karashima Quintet which has been highly acclaimed as a genuine jazz quintet. He was also invited as a soloist by Japan’s top orchestras such as Kenichi Tsunoda Big Band, Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra and New Japan Philharmonic, and gave an excellent performance of “Rhapsody in Blue”. In 1994, he released his album “In San Francisco” on which Anthony Williams participated as a member. 

After that, he released “Open the Gate” with all-star performers including Kazumi Watanabe. Also in 1999, he released “Rencontre”, a duo album with a harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans. In this album, he had shown an excellent piano technique that was a bit different from his piano solo works. After that, he formed a new trio with Yosuke Inoue and Shingo Okudaira, and released “The Elysian Air” in 2002 and “It’s Just Beginning” in 2004, both of which were highly acclaimed as masterpieces of piano trio. Also, his live recording from a duo concert with Kei Akagi “Grand New Touch” made a real hit of jazz piano. 

His later works include his collaboration with Jack DeJohnette “Great Time”, his standard solo album “Moon River” in which he played a Fazioli piano regarded as the best piano manufactured in Italy, and his tribute album to Elvin Jones “E. J. Blues – Fumio Karashima meets Takeo Moriyama”.