Friday, August 25, 2017

Shoji Aketagawa - 1975 - Aketa’s Erotical Piano Solo & Grotesque Piano Trio

Shoji Aketagawa 
Aketa’s Erotical Piano Solo & Grotesque Piano Trio

01. カソフア _ このしみこそをこのぜしこみしのて _ フソー _ ラドソン _ ノモゥ
02. テーア・フォー・トモナ
03. ワルッ・フォー・フー

Shoji Aketagawa solo piano recorded on 30 March 1975

Shoji Aketagawa - piano
Miyazaka Takashi – drums
Yamazaki Kouichi – bass

Recorded live on 31 March 1975, live at Aketa No Mise

Hideously rare Japanese free jazz private press monster LP. First release on the Aketa label. This one looks and feels like all those obscure private presses you became to love, white jacket with paste on paper on front and Xeroxed two page insert. Released in an edition of about 250 copies or so. Balancing between free improvisation, minimal trance-inducing composition interludes with Aketa humming and scraping is throat while all this is taking place. The second side of the album sees Aketagawa teaming up with drummer Miyazaka Takashi and bassist Yamazaki Kouichi. As a trio the force of Aketagawa is even more unrelenting, venomously spiked up and delivering a high-tension clash of free spirits.

Sabu Toyozumi - Mototeru Takagi - 1971 - If Ocean Is Broken

Sabu Toyozumi - Mototeru Takagi 
If Ocean Is Broken

01. Song For Yoo-Ki Lee
02. If Ocean Is Broken
03. The Alilan Pass
04. Nostalgia For Che-ju Island

Sabu Toyozumi – drums, percussion
Mototeru Takagi – tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet

Limited edition of 200 copies, somewhat modified design, pressed on blue and red vinyl (very rare). Recorded live in April 1971 at Yasuda Seimei Hall, Tokyo, Japan.
In the front cover is photo of Kubira (Shotora) a Kamakura period sculpture, on the back cover is an image polychromed wood statue of En no Gyoja, also from the Kamakura Period (1185-1333).

Recorded live in April 1971 at Yasuda Seimei Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Thanks to Sabu & Yoshi.
The cover photo is an image of a polychromed wood statue of En no Gyoja, from the Kamakura Period (1185-1333).

Unreleased free jazz from Japan in its prime, recorded live in Tokyo in 1971. Mototeru Takagi already released two beautiful duo LPs back then with master Japanese drummers like Masahiko Togashi (Isolation) and Toshi Tsuchitori (Origination), so this last DLP is complete in a sense the set of duo recorded with the best, 1st generation, free music drummers from Japan. On the other side it's complete also, the duo recorded by Sabu with the greatest reeds player from Japan (still of the 1st generation); being, his various duos with legendary Kaoru Abe, already documented on Qbico (Senzei) and elsewhere. About the music: raw and passionate = primitive beauty; both musicians are in top form and surely in their most creative period. Mr. Takagi plays tenor, soprano sax and bass clarinet, while Sabu is on drums and percussion. Original recordings were very well preserved (fortunately) and the pressing came out wonderful! Cover by qbico which Sabu can really dig, saying that En no Gyoja is deeply respected by him, he opened the way...

Ryo Fukui - 1977 - Mellow Dream

Ryo Fukui 
Mellow Dream

01. Mellow Dream 9:48
02. My Foolish Heart 6:54
03. Baron Potato Blues 7:02
04. What's New 5:55
05. Horizon 9:27
06. My Funny Valentine 3:16

Bass – Satoshi Denpoh
Drums – Yoshinori Fukui
Piano – Ryo Fukui

Recorded August 17 & 18, 1977 at Yamaha Hall/Sapporo

Ryo Fukui's second input which is a great addition to the modal jazz movement. Comparing this album to his first release, "Scenery" would be a bit unfair, because this is different and shows Fukui going towards a different direction. This is a much more energetic, and bombastic album which features an AMAZING, and almost dance-able song called "Horizon." It's a 9 minute trip which ultimately reminds me of racing to a finish line, which pretty much sums up the speed of the song, which compliments the composition perfectly. I feel like Ryo Fukui is definitely not a generic jazz musician either, because you can just feel his personality running through these songs, and if you haven't heard his first album, I highly recommend that you do so, because it shows him at his best, while this album almost reaches that peak. What drags this album down is that some parts seem to lose momentum and overall drag songs such as "Baron Potato Blues."

Ryo Fukui - 1976 - Scenery

Ryo Fukui 

01. It Could Happen To You
02. I Want To Talk About You
03. Early Summer
04. Willow Weep For Me
05. Autumn Leaves
06. Scenery

Bass – Satoshi Denpo
Drums – Yoshinori Fukui
Piano – Ryo Fukui

Originally released in 1976.
Recorded 9/7/1976 at Yamaha Hall, Sapporo.

By the mid 70s, America’s jazz craze was merely a dwindling memory.  Since its creative peak in the late 50s, Americans had witnessed the creation of rock, funk, and soul, which had overtaken jazz as the most popular forms of music. The genre had simply been pushed and pulled in too many directions, struggling to keep up with the times.

Even the finest musicians of the previous decade were struggling to stay relevant among the new generation, fusing jazz with popular music in order to continue their commercial success.

Miles Davis dove deeply into jazz-rock (Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson), Herbie Hancock experimented with synthesizers and futuristic funk (Head Hunters, Thrust) and Freddie Hubbard was caught up in the smooth jazz movement (any post-Windjammer album). Don Cherry and Pharoah Sanders attempted to add Eastern musical scales and philosophies to the genre, resulting in a bizarre spiritual jazz movement. Even John Coltrane had advanced beyond bop before his death, opting instead to explore the atonal realms of free jazz alongside Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman.

The increasingly experimental nature of jazz in the 1970s was enthralling but ultimately lead to further disconnect from a mainstream audience, who looked for danceable styles of music. And artistically, the genre had its back against the wall.

Outside of America, however, jazz still had hope.

In Japan, the movement was still gaining traction, with hints of fusion barely beginning to appear. By 1976, however, one of the finest albums of the decade was released to little acclaim in America – Scenery. Ryo Fukui, a self-taught pianist released his own take on some of the most classic jazz standards, stunning Japanese audiences. Critics and fans alike were reminded of the modal masterpieces of McCoy Tyner and his distinctly powerful style.

Although Fukui was among the few Japanese jazz artists that has gained a following, he was far from the first in the country’s history. Japan’s brief obsession with jazz began to build slowly after the conclusion of World War II, as American culture was slowly accepted in the country. Government officials attempted to ban jazz in the 1940s, citing it as “music of the enemy”. But as American troops increased their presence in Japan, their music began to spread as well. They grew tired of the nations traditional music, wishing their danceable big-band and swing music was available instead. Thus, troops in occupied cities began hiring musicians, teaching them to play various jazz tunes.

Some American musicians toured the South Pacific (most famously swing clarinetist Artie Shaw) but there was only so much music to go around. Demand for jazz in Japan increased and naturally, the number of jazz musicians skyrocketed.

Following the war, Japanese musicians kept performing, ironically popularizing a genre established in a country which had just been one of Japan’s greatest enemies. Growing up in this new post-war musical climate, Fukui gained an interest in jazz, teaching himself how to play the piano at 22 (source). Six years later, he released his full-length debut, Scenery.

Scenery begins with “It Could Happen To You”, an original hard bop take on a piece made famous by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra (among many others) in the mid 40s. It builds slowly from a serene, calming introduction to a furious, upbeat tune which would make any pianist proud. Beautiful piano solos surround the chorus, which sound like they came straight out of a cool jazz Charlie Brown soundtrack from the decade before.

Next, Fukui tackles “I Want to Talk About You”, a standard originally performed by John Coltrane on his solo debut in 1958. It’s a tranquil work of modal jazz which is a perfect transition from the previous bop-based song. It’s equal parts aesthetically beautiful and technically proficient, providing a great tune for both jazz beginners and professionals.

The album reaches a crescendo by “Early Summer”, a heavier, more chord-driven piece reminiscent of the early Blue Note modal records of the early 60s. About halfway through the song, Fukui transitions effortlessly from his mellow melodies to a high-energy sweeping solo, which lasts about three minutes. Here’s where the Tyner influences are most apparent – unlike his other calming tracks on this album, Fukui has some slamming chord processions and furious solo work, which seems to span the entirety of the piano.

It’s chaotic – yet never feels forced, like many of the other avant-garde/funk pieces of the era. Remaining smooth as always, Fukui pushes the boundaries of the solo without ever losing the rhythm or overall structure of the song. After an equally impressive drum solo from Yoshinori Fukui, the song comes full circle to conclude with a similar riff present on the intro.

After two more beautiful modal pieces, the album concludes with “Scenery”, from which the album takes its name. Fukui creates some sharper, more precise piano work, as opposed to the previous two, which rely on more smooth, legato melodies. It’s a perfect blend of the two styles present on the album – meshing the upbeat, jovial nature of the first half with the more solemn, slow elements towards the end of the second half. As the album comes to a close, Fukui provides perfect, calming exit music, letting listeners know the album that their time together is almost up.

While members of the avant-garde, fusion and free jazz movements of the 1970s attempted to stand alone in their own unique fashions, it was ironically the traditional piece that has since separated itself as a masterpiece. Fukui stayed true to his form, electing to perform jazz standards in his own unique manner. While his music lacked the classical sophistication of Bill Evans or the wild personality of Miles Davis, it accurately and succinctly blends jazz influences from multiple eras. Meshing hard bop, modal and cool jazz influences, it maintains an atmosphere of majesty, serenity and peacefulness. Although Ryo Fukui didn’t break any new barriers, his original tweaks to classic standards set Scenery aside as one of the finest jazz records of the decade.

Masahiko Togashi & Isao Suzuki - 1978 - A Day In The Sun

Masahiko Togashi & Isao Suzuki 
A Day In The Sun

01. A Day Of The Sun 7:59
02. Birth Of Yellow Eggs 4:26
03. onely Blue 7:08
04. Creatures In The Deep Blue Sea 7:51
05. Silvery Flash 4:27
06. Awakening Of The Fresh Green 5:27

Bass, Bass [Piccolo], Cello, Piano, Instruments [Solina] – Isao Suzuki
Drums, Percussion, Synthesizer, Instruments [Solina] – Masahiko Togashi

Recorded : February 1-3,1979 at King Records Studio #2, Tokyo.

"A Day Of The Sun" is two Japanese jazz greats duo's album. Percussionist Masahiko Togashi (besides of pianist Masahiko Satoh) are key figure of Japanese free jazz,played with virtually everyone of important Japanese advanced jazz musician and recorded lot of albums,some of them (especially recorded in late 60s - early 70s)are part of Japanese jazz "golden fund". Acoustic bassist Isao Suzuki is even more legendary figure - in Japan he is usually titled "Godfather of Jazz".

Born in Tokyo in 1933,he started his jazz career in 1953 playing bass with Louis Armstrong when the later to Japan that year.I have read in Isao's interview that he was in Armstrong concert and next day found out that Armstrong band is searching for bassist. Isao asked his mother to buy him a bass (he never played the instrument before) and went to rehearsal. According to Isao, bandleader hired him and showed how to play bass - that's how he started.Later he played for two or three years in US Navy base band and than joined Jun Kiyomizu band - his first Japanese band ever.He played around Japan (mostly in local cabarets) till late 60s when "Ginpary"(or "Silver Paris" - psychedelic jam sessions on very early Japanese free jazz stage) fashion pushed mainstream jazz musicians aside.Isao still participated in some gigs and even was one-time member of quartet with Sadao Watanabe,Togashi and Kikuchi(that was one of "Ginpary" session where Isao met Masahiko Togashi for the first time).In 1969 he played with Art Blakey who invited him to America where Isao stayed for two years (mostly traveling around the country and Canada in old Caddilac with Art Blakey and playing gigs mostly in black clubs).Art Blakey's band of the time included George Cables,Woody Shaw and Ramon Morris.Isao played lot of jams with Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell,Elvin Jones,Duke Pearson and Lee Morgan among others. He spent a lot of time in Rudy Van Gelder recording studio as well where Rudy tough him many secrets of good recording sound.Isao even was a bassist in Ella Fitzgerald band, but when one day in airport on their way to Canada Art Blakey got basted on cocaine,Isao same day just took the flight back to Japan.On return he made a lot introducing his experience in development of jazz in Japan.His first albums for Three Blind Mices (cult audiophile label,kind Japanese ECM but with very physical,deep and warm sound)built recordings sound and mix quality standard for decades to come.In 1980 he released "Self-Portrait" - first ever one-man recording using multilayer techniques in Japanese jazz (Isao played 22 different instruments on this album).

Main Isao's personality importance is still that that he's one among few extremely respectable Japanese jazz artists having hard-bop background.Other his generation known jazzmen come mostly from big bands (formed under US bases orchestras influence),late 60s pushed ahead new noisy and angry generation which stepped right to radical avant-garde.

With all series of strong hard-bop albums,Isao stayed innovative for decades though. His second important influence was fusion,but he released albums containing Latin jazz or even modern electronic remixes. During his long career Isao played with percussionist Masahiko Tagashi quite regularly, on Masahiko's or his own albums. "A Day of The Sun" is duo's collaboration,significant for both artists. Similarly like fusion popularity fast decrease in mid-late 70s on Western jazz scenes left lot of jazz musicians on the thin ice (and sometimes without job),in Japan that time is a time when jazz lost its importance as major part of modern musical culture. One of popular trend where many previous avant-garde and fusion artists switched to became etno-influenced improvisational (often meditative) music. "A Day Of The Sun" (percussionist and bassist duo recording,both uses some synth and other instruments though) is one good example. Fortunately differently from many of similar releases music here doesn't become endless hypnotizing noodling and successfully avoids similarities with upcoming new age. Two musicians are both too big personalities and too great masters to fade to grey zone - even if there are very free form compositions presented,them all have lot of blood and bones (deep physical bass, multilayered and complex percussion,all the time changing rhythms and grooves); probably good comparison is some ECM early proto-ambient recordings, where sound still wasn't all that liquid and super-polished. 

Togashi will continue developing same formula on his later works,Suzuki will return to his more usual mainstream jazz, but "A Day Of The Sun" will stay as great evidence of two giant collaboration and excellent example of non-boring improvisational music.

Masahiko Togashi - 1976 - Guild For Human Music

Masahiko Togashi
Guild For Human Music

01. First Expression 8:07
02. Second Expression 4:29
03. Third Expression 8:15
04. Fourth Expression 6:45
05. Fifth Expression 2:44
06. Sixth Expression 10:18

Bass – Yoshio Ikeda
Cello, Bass – Keiki Midorikawa (tracks: A1 to A3, B2)
Keyboards – Masahiko Satoh (tracks: B1, B3)
Percussion – Masahiko Togashi, Yoshizaburo Toyozumi, Tatsuzi Yokoyama
Woodwind – Hideo Miyata, Masami Nakagawa, Shigeo Suzuki

Recorded May 23, 24, 26, & 27, 1976 at Nippon Columbia's 1st studio, Tokyo, Japan.

If you are looking for an album that will transcend you into another dimension then you have come to the right place. This is the progressive-exploratory side of jazz and trips right over fusion.....smack dab!

This album is not for the faint-of-heart! It is a study in both sound and textures with some crazy percussion throughout.

"Guild For Human Muisc" is composed of 6 "expressions" which is a very good choice of words to depict there songs. Togashi blends his vast array of percussion with various woodwinds, keyboards, flutes and bass effects creating a very lunaristic - transcedental'ish album that verges on extraterrestrial! other words this is far out stuff....

The end result is an album that really works considering how "lunaristic" it is.......

The sound quality is also outstanding and is pure audiophile territory!

Masahiko Togashi - 1974 - Song For Myself

Masahiko Togashi 
Song For Myself

01. Haze 9:46
02. Fairy-Tale 10:48
03. Song For Myself 8:02
04. Song For My Friends 11:37

Recorded at Victor Studios, Tokyo

October 10, 1974 (tr.1)
September 23, 1974 (tr.2)
September 30, 1974 (tr.3)
July 25, 1974 (tr.4)

Drums, Percussion – Masahiko Togashi
Sadao Watanabe - flute (tr.1)
Masahiko Satoh - piano (tr.2)
Masabumi Kikuchi - piano (tr.4)

The intimate nature of the title is very apt on this one – as the album features spare duets between drummer Masahiko Togashi and other Japanese musicians – including the great Sadao Watanabe on flute, and either Masahiko Satoh and Masabumi Kikuchi on piano! The sound is open, and sometimes a bit free – but in a way that's very inventive, and never too overpowering – as Togashi finds a way to really keep things grounded, and work in the best collaborative spirit with each musician. A real standout on the East West catalog of the 70s.

Maple Leaf - 1972 - Maple Leaf

Maple Leaf 
Maple Leaf

01. Prologue ~ Birth ~
02. Abandoned kitten's story
03. Urban · 4 am
04. Graduation
05. Sadness helmet
06. Farewell my friend
07. Dusky by goodbye
08. Seaside depression
09. Festival Part I
10 Letter from tomorrow
11. Festival part II
12. Jumping alone Jamie
13. Epilogue ~ Regent regression
14. Time division in the morning
15. Ogle's prose (theme)

Makoto Kanzawa (g, vo)
Yasushidori Ogisu (g, vo)
Yuichiro Enoki (b, b)
Yoko Nakajima (vo)

Excellent!  Very exciting mix of songs that runs through an assortment of related styles, male/female vocals, always upbeat, a sax and bacharachesque trumpet solo thrown in, very well produced, and tight, my friends, tight.

Kazuki Tomokawa - 1978 - Ore no Uchi de Nari-yamanai Mono

Kazuki Tomokawa 
Ore no Uchi de Nari-yamanai Mono

01. Circus
02. Rinjyu
03. Kojyo
04. Kikyo
05. Kuwana no Eki
06. Natsu no Hi no Uta
07. Yogore-chimatta Kanashimi ni
08. Haru no Hi no Yuugure
09. Rokugatsu no Ame
10. Boya

Tsuneo Ogaki: drums
Shinichi Takemura / Keiko Niwa: bass
Takeshi Mori: guitar
Kyoko Furuie: piano
Yoshinobu Hiraiwa: organ, keyboard
Toshiaki Ishizuka: percussion
Hirokazu Ishii: tuba
Shoji Maeda: flute, sax, piccolo
Sakae Yamada: french horn
Takashi Kato / Yoshinori Tada / Sadaji Okubo / Yoichiro Kobayashi: violin
Hiroo Horiguchi: cornet violin
Sachio Eto: ocarina
Ikuo Morimoto: harmonica
Manjyushage: chorus

The complete title is Ore no uchi de nariyamanai mono - Nakahara Chuya sakuhinshu. I only noticed the tiny furigana next to ? recently, I always read it as 'uta'. In any case, the title means 'Poems that won't stop crying inside of me - Collection of works by Chuya Nakahara', and this is the 4th studio album by bluesy folk hero Kazuki Tomokawa (?????); if you've been following this blog, you should know him by now. This is one from the first 2 decades of Tomokawa's career, before he was picked up by P.S.F. Records, and these albums are to this day far less easy to obtain than the later ones. The songs, settings of poems by Nakahara (whom you can get to know better here) are quite lavishly orchestrated. Once you get to know them, you can treat yourself to a comparison with ??????? (yes, that's basically the same title, with the first line omitted), a 2003 album (it was originally only to be found in the lavish P.S.F.-released 13-CD box) on which Tomokawa records all these songs again solo. I kind of like the almost bombastic arrangements on some of the versions here, though they may be an acquired taste for some.

Kazuki Tomokawa - 1977 - Senbadzuru Wo Kuchini Kuwaeta Hibi

Kazuki Tomokawa
Senbadzuru Wo Kuchini Kuwaeta Hibi

01. Opening Theme [1:34]
02. Say With Conviction, I Am Alive [2:18]
03. Kill Or Get Killed [3:53]
04. Memory [3:15]
05. What's Happened? [3:52]
06. NaMaHaGe [5:57]
07. My Home Lives Inside Me Just Like It Does In A Dog [6:04]
08. Kids In The Town Of Hachiryu [4:13]
09. Don-Pan Bushi Carousing [5:37]
10. A Runaway Boy [3:48]
11. An Ode To A Failed Death

J.A. Seazer (arrangements)
Takeshi Mori (guitare, guitare électrique)
Tatsuji Nagasu (guitare)
Yoshinobu Hiraiwa (claviers)
Kei Ishikawa (basse électrique)
Makoto Aihara (batterie)
Tsuneo Oishi (batterie)
Koji Ishii (tuba)

Kazuki Tomokawa, with Senbazuru wo Kuchini Kuwaeta Hibi, as a favored treatment of artistic personalities from the northern provinces, signed his first collaboration with JA Seazer, a major producer of the seventies, gravitating in the high spheres of the avant-garde theater -guard alongside the priceless writer, playwright and filmmaker Shuji Terayama. After Morita Doji, Seazer joins Tomokawa to work on a studio album in total break with Kansai folk; The fashion (at least, that of the margin) is to the psychedelic decomplexed and the musical arrangements sought. It is obvious from the starting blocks with the presence of a real good instrumental theme. From the scale, from the drama - listen to the cello of "What's Happened": clearly, Accompaniment is much better worked and seductive in its form. Tomokawa is suddenly more accessible to everyone, through this graft in the vein of Tenjo Sajiki ("Memory"). The maestria of Seazer is undeniable, his reputation far from being usurped, helped by Takeshi Mori on guitar. Farewell folk rock plan-plan, place to the cavalcades in the countries of an exotic prog on the border of art rock. "NaMaHaGe" sends a funky bass line in 5/8, well-felt flute arrows, the battery strikes more by chasing the synths: it swings, it swings and waddles with a small side Ennio Morricone without diluting In fact) the nerves in ball of the principal interpreter. "Say with Conviction, I am Alive" is the direct affirmation, It is the best-known title of Tomokawa, a hymn to the life of all concerts that never does in half measure. Two other notable hits, intended for a single ("Kids in the Town of Hachiryu") whose face B "Runaway Boy" is a classic of a formidable efficiency. Coated with subtle arrangements that give a hellfishing fishing to neat texts, the album is undoubtedly the best possible mise en bouche possible for anyone who would like to discover the howler philosopher by the seventies box, without leaving feathers there. Even the mandatory passage on the traditional terrain is passed to the magic sieve of the man with the wand - once listened, the exalting "Don-Pan Bushi Carousing" risks squatting skulls for quite a while. It is a small miracle that everything is so well taken away. Senbazuru is a pretty pavement in the pond on which you wiggle in spite of a share of shade very present; A pleasure not so guilty, for never Tomokawa seems withdrawn. On the contrary, he sings of the timeless without conforming to more formal expectations: "An Ode To A Failed Death", a psychedelic apex with the stunning violin part, arises thus gently on the opening theme of the album in outro . Energetic and powerful. Opening of the album in outro. Energetic and powerful. Opening of the album in outro. Energetic and powerful.

Kazuki Tomokawa - 1976 - Nikusei

Kazuki Tomokawa 

01. おじっちゃ 4:24
02. 冬は莫迦くへなあ 2:20
03. あめらんくゆらん 3:32
04. だがつぐ 2:42
05. 似合った青春 3:22
06. 歩道橋 6:15
07. 春だなあ 2:57
08. 冷蔵庫 0:50
09. 木端微塵 3:10
10. トドを殺すな 2:47
11. ハーモニカ 4:22
12. ちいさな詩 3:26
13. 石 3:10

Originally released on Harvest Records in July 1976.

After a first solo effort in 1975, Nikusei ("A Natural Voice") is the second studio album released by Tomokawa. Both its style and its wider distribution contributed to turn the man into one of the front-runners in Japanese outsider folk music. Here the young Tomokawa wails and screams emotionally hard enough in order to strip the paint of the walls. Nevertheless at times he gets quite emotional and laid back in order to hush his haunting demons to sleep. Just a splendid piece of Japanese acid folk and chant exorcism. Tomokawa’s music is violent, emotionally charged with insane screaming modes, piercing sensitivity, cathartic rhythmic purge, thrashing acoustic guitar aesthetic and harsh, reflecting the atmosphere of the bleak northern prefecture of Aomori. In other words, if you don't like what you're hearing, you'll rather skip the man's music and miss an exceptional discography of avant-folk genius.

Kazuki Tomokawa - 1975 - Yatto ichi maime

Kazuki Tomokawa 
Yatto ichi maime

01. Seishun
02. Tamashii
03. Yumiko no Haru
04. Koku-ka
05. Haka
06. NamMyoHouRenGeKyo
07. Denwa
08. Rancho Akita Ondo
09. Chikyu Gakko
10. 23sai no Teikou
11. Ishimori-san
12. Niibon
13. Dorobou-neko Yoru Hashiru
14. Akarui Yoru

Kazuki Tomokawa: acoustic guitar, superior-pipe
Kazuo Suguro / Ikutaro Fukuda: acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Takashi Maeda: bass
Takeshi Yagishita / Toshio Hagiwara: drums
Toshiaki Ishizuka: percussion, fuurin
Toyofuji / Toyoshizu: shamisen
Iroha Sisters: ohayashi
Katada-Keiki-Shachu: taiko, Chanchiki, transverse flute
Hiromi Yoshida / Katsumi Choshu: acoustic guitar, chorus
Kyoko Furuie: piano, organ
Santa Yamakawa: poetry reading
Hisayo Fukida / Chikako Honda / Reiko Komine / Akiko Moriyama
Masayuki Nakai / Hisao Iwase / Santa Yamakawa: backing chorus

Poet, singer, artist, bicycle race commentator, essayist, actor, drinker.
An artist who miraculously embodies the romance of the vagabond poet, a rarity in an age where our very freedom means we have forgotten how to live.

Born in Hachiryu-mura (now renamed as Mitane-machi), Akita in northern Japan on February 16, 1950, Tomokawa’s real name is Tenji Nozoki. He was brought up by his grandparents, surrounded by the lush nature of the Mitane River which flows into Lake Hachiro. During his years at Ukawa Middle School, Tomokawa was a notably poor student and displayed no interest in literature. However, by chance one day in the library he came across the poem Hone (Bone) by the early 20th century Japanese symbolist poet Chuya Nakahara. This poem shocked him to the core, and he started writing his own verse. After leaving middle school, he entered Noshiro Technical High School, a school famous for its basketball program. While managing the school basketball team, he read widely – devouring books by the likes of decadent novelist Osamu Dazai and noted literary critic Hideo Kobayashi. (He later coached the team for a while, one of his students going on to represent Japan at the Olympic Games).

Inspired the example of Bob Dylan and others, the early 1970s in Japan witnessed a boom in folk music. Tomokawa found himself caught up in the movement, taught himself to play acoustic guitar and began to set his poems to music. In 1975 he made his long-awaited record debut, releasing the album yatto ichimaime (Finally, The First Album). Around this time he got to know the members of the radical Japanese rock band Zuno Keisatsu. He got on particularly well with the group’s percussionist, Toshiaki Ishizuka, who would go on to become one of Tomokawa’s most important musical collaborators. In the late seventies, Tomokawa would become heavily involved with several theatre companies, writing songs for their plays and even appearing on stage as an actor. This was a period when he seemed to seek ever new spaces into which to expand his creativity. It was also during this period that he first became interested in art.

Tomokawa held his first solo show in Tokyo in 1985, with the support of the art critic Yoshie Yoshida. Since then he has had shows all over Japan, and has attracted the attention and praise of artists and opinion-makers like the outsider author Kenji Nakagami and the poet Yasuki Fukushima.

Kazaguruma - 1973 - Kazaguruma


01. ニんな静かな夜が
02. リンゴを売る少年
03. いやだなあ
04. 手紙
05. 其の日暮しの虫字虫方字
06. やがて子供達は
07. さよならなんて
08. まるで菓のように
09. 今 を
10. 爱想つかして
11. 踞るだけの私
12. 適 伸

今田勝 (Masaru Imada)
林立夫 (Tatsuo Hayashi)
Jun Fukamachi: Keyboards
Katsu Hoshi: Guitar
Haruomi Hosono: Bass
Hiro Yanagida: Keyboards
Seiji Tanaka: Drums
Chito Kawaci: Drums

Polydor MR-5030, July 1973, Japan

Obscure folk duo accompanied by a who is who in Japanese rock scene... insanely hard to get!

Jun Kamikubo - 1972 - Nothingness

Jun Kamikubo

01. 勲章いっぱいぶらさげて [Getting Into The Ecstacy]
02. 死んだら恋人よ [Reflection Of Sentimentalism]
03. 天国行きの最終便 [Blues Of Movement]
04. 愛が欲しい [Get What You Want]
05. 半分終わった俺の人生は [What's My Life]
06. 人生は舞台劇 [I Want To Be What I Can]
07. 何となく何となく [Go Through The Wind]
08. 殺ったのは俺じゃない [Leaving My Position]

Music By, Arranged By, Vocals, Guitar [Lead, Side], Bass, Drums – 上久保ジュン (Jun Kamikubo)

I wonder what type of weed was prevalent in Japan around this time. It must have been potent, because there's a certain downer feel to the heavy records produced in the country that has a flavor all it's own. I mean, as this album gets going with "Getting Into the Ecstasy," that is one seriously, almost barbituate pace and feel we've got going here. The material isn't always that strong, but the balance of heavy to weak tracks is pretty strong. Recording however is pretty bad, and the vocals could be a lot better. I do like the farty, Jack Bruce-like bass sound though.
Jun Kamikubo's sole work Nothingness reminds me quite a bit of the Blues Creation's Demon & Eleven Children album. That is, a mix of blues and heavy psych. There's also some naive 60s styled pop, awesomely drenched in fuzz and old-stock organ. And yes, they had to throw in a "I gots the blues-real-bad, yeaaa I do" song per protocol. And even a Grateful Dead-ish "Truckin'" type number. So a diverse album that represents a compendium of the USA's 1960s scene. Through a Japanese filter. Works for me.

Shigeru Suzuki - 1975 - Band Wagon

Shigeru Suzuki 
Band Wagon

01. Suna No Onna
02. Hachigatsu No Nioi
03. Binetsu Shounen
04. Snow Express
01. Jinrikihikouki No Yoru
05. 100 Wat No Koibito
06. Wood Pecker
07. Yuuyake No Hashiba
08. Ginga Rhapsody

Bass – Doug Ranch (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, B5), Ken Gradney (tracks: A4, B4)
Clavinet – Don Grusin (tracks: A3), Wendy Haas (tracks: B1, B2)
Congas – Sam Clayton (tracks: A4, B4)
Drums – David Garibaldi (tracks: A1, A2, B3), Greg Errico (tracks: A3, B1, B2, B5), Richie Hayward (tracks: A4, B4)
Electric Piano – Bill Payne (tracks: A3, A4)
Guitar – Shigeru Suzuki
Keyboards – Bill Payne, Don Grusin (tracks: A1, B3), Wendy Haas
Piano – Bill Payne (tracks: A2, B1, B2, B4, B5)
Synthesizer – Shigeru Suzuki, Wendy Haas
Tenor Saxophone – Gene Goe (tracks: A2)
Trombone – Dick Slyde Hyde (tracks: A2)
Trumpet – Pete Christlieb (tracks: A2)
Vocals – Shigeru Suzuki

Shigeru Suzuki is a well known Japanese guitarist who started his career in late 1960s. In 1969-1972 Suzuki played in Happy End, a short lived band that played folk rock. His bandmates in Happy end included Takashi Matsumoto, Eiichi Ohtaki and Haruomi Hosono (of the Yellow magic orchestra fame). After Happy end was disbanded, Suzuki played in Hosono’s new band Tin pan alley, a band concentrating on exotica styled music.
Band wagon, the first solo album of Shigeru Suzuki, was released in 1975. Instead of folk rock or exotica, this album is funk and soul oriented. It was recorded in Los Angeles with additional local session musicians involved. Most of the tracks are vocal numbers but there’s also some instrumentals included. While Suzuki concentrates on slow funk jams, there’s also few funky midtempo soul songs. First track Suna no onna is very soulful funky song similar to the second one, Hachigatsu no nioi. Third track Binetsu shonen is a guitar driven midtempo groovy soul track. Few instrumentals include Suno ekusupuresu (read “Snow express”) and Uddo pekka (read “Woodpecker”), really funky mid tempo groovers. There’s also slow funk jams like 100 Watto no koibito and Yuyake hatoba) in the album. This is clearly one of the funkiest albums out of Japan, highly recommended.

Happy End - 1974 - Live - Happy End 1973.9.21

Happy End 
Live - Happy End 1973.9.21

01. From the edge
02. It's summer
03. Sketch of moon rain moon
04. I want to hold you
05. Sky Tabu - Uralaka · Cider
06. Coconut Holiday
07. To town bound village
08. Spring first
09. Rainy day in December
10. hide-and-seek
11. Come, spring

Eiichi Ohtaki: Twelve-String Guitar, Guitar [6-String], Vocals
Haruomi Hosono: Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Shigeru Suzuki: Lead Guitar, Celesta
Takashi Matsumoto: Drums, Percussion

Live recordig of the last Happy End show

Happy End - 1973 - Happy End

Happy End 
Happy End

01. Breeze
02. Sketch of moon rain moon
03. Perfectly tomorrow is surely spring
04. No wind condition
05. Sayonara Street # 3
06. An umbrella
07. Country road
08. Nice weather outside
09. Farewell America, Goodbye Nippon

Eiichi Ohtaki: Twelve-String Guitar, Guitar [6-String], Vocals
Haruomi Hosono: Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Shigeru Suzuki: Lead Guitar, Celesta
Takashi Matsumoto: Drums, Percussion

The album was recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles in late 1972. Van Dyke Parks, known for his collaborations with Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, produced the album. In 2013, Parks stated that the band walked in unannounced while he and Lowell George were working on "Sailin' Shoes" and asked him to give them the "California Sound". He initially refused saying he was busy with sessions for his own album Discover America, but accepted when George noticed a suitcase full of new one hundred-dollar bills with Happy End's manager.

Although Haruomi Hosono later described the work with Parks as "productive," the album sessions were tenuous, and the members of Happy End were disenchanted with their vision of America they had anticipated.[3] A language barrier along with opposition between the Los Angeles studio personnel and the band was also apparent, which further frustrated the group.[4] Eiichi Ohtaki recalled that Parks was drunk during production and tried to lecture them about Pearl Harbor and World War II.[5] These feelings were conveyed in the closing track "Sayonara America, Sayonara Nippon" which received some contributions from Parks and George.

As Takashi Matsumoto explained: "We had already given up on Japan, and with [that song], we were saying bye-bye to America too—we weren't going to belong to any place."

Happy End officially disbanded on December 31, 1972, two months before the album was released on February 25, 1973.[

In 1974, Shigeru Suzuki returned to Los Angeles to record his first solo album Band Wagon and once again worked with Lowell George, Bill Payne, Dick Hyde and Kirby Johnson.

Happy End - 1971 - Kazemachi Roman

Happy End 
Kazemachi Roman

01. I want to hold you
02. Emptiness of the sky blue
03. Gather the wind
04. Darkness slope Musashi rust change
05. From the edge
06. Yes
07. It's summer
08. Flower girls girls
09. That will keep you mad
10. Typhoon
11. Spring Ranman
12. Love you

13. Yuki Kuchi Introduction ~ Narration (Take chie) (Bonus Track)
14. Yukari kichi narration (Takes 1 and 2) (Bonus Track)
15. From the edge ("City" version) (Bonus Track)
16. From the edge (single version) (Bonus Track)
17. Ashitashi ni (Rehearsal · Take / Rhythm Tracks) (Bonus Track)
18. It's summer (rehearsal · take) (Bonus Track)

Eiichi Ohtaki: Twelve-String Guitar, Guitar [6-String], Vocals
Haruomi Hosono: Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Shigeru Suzuki: Lead Guitar, Celesta
Takashi Matsumoto: Drums, Percussion

 Kazemachi Roman, (literally "Wind City Romance"), is the second album by Japanese folk rock band Happy End, released on URC Records in 1971. In this concept album, Happy End attempted to paint a musical picture of Tokyo before the 1964 Summer Olympics, through which sweeping changes transformed the city forever.

Originally released in 1971 this album is a sophomore effort by the Japanese rock band Happy End. These guys are considered The Beatles of Japan, some may think that's just bit too much but considering their legacy and the importance of their music in the development of City Pop and J-Pop you might think otherwise. I'm very confident that many of you must have heard these guys in one way or another. If you love all sorts of popular music you will come across these guys at least once in your path. This album has been ranked number one on the list of '100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time' by Rolling Stone Japan and also topped most of the lists in other influential rock publications. Each members eventually went on to a successful solo and other band careers including YMO. If you haven't heard this album yet go and give it a go, you will not be disappointed. 

Happy End's second disc is pretty much their attempt the band's attempt to refine and crystalize their basic sound. It's a brighter and folkier affair than their debut, and I'd say that they seem more confident and both songwriting and playing. This doesn't necessarily mean that I think it's a better album however. Like the cover art you see, the music comes across as a lot more 'blah.'

What I really dug about the first disc was it's often almost tongue in cheek experimentation. It seemed to somehow mix the sound of a solid, but not completely inspired professional band and the sound of some very talented, but undisciplined kids making music in a garage. Here, the balance is more on the side of the competent, but less interesting band. In particular, the band seems to be exchanging their more psychedelic sounds for CCR rhythms and pedal steel channeled through the Eagles. Personally, I don't think that is a very exciting prospect, but maybe you do.

So this is a nice, solid album, even if not providing much variation; I guess you could say the same for a Poco album. You've heard "Kaze wo Atsumete" if you've seen the film "Lost In Translation," and it's most certainly responsible for Happy End's recent international visibility. If you dig that track, you'll find more to like here, although you should expect a stronger infusion of imported country rock on other tracks. Nothing really hits the peaks of the first album, but everything here is at a consistently "pretty good" level. I prefer tracks like "Haikara Hacuch" or "Taifuu," which shift to a more rock sound. Elsewhere, "Ashita Tenki ni Naare" is an extremely stange attempt at funk. Basically, you need to hear this album at least one, but my guess is that you'd play the first one a little more often.

From 1971 Japan comes this gleaming gem of classic rock, encompassing a myriad of American styles from rural rock and country to raw garage, blues, experimental, and blazing west coast rock – but contrary to prevailing trends of the time, the lyrics are not sung in English. If this poses a problem for your ears it is a great shame, for Kazemachi Roman (Wind City Romance) is a must-listen record, and #1 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums.

Kazemachi Roman owes its sound to many influences, but the band maintains an unmistakable originality while flawlessly running the gamut of American popular music. “Haikara Hakuchi” drives with the ferocity of a Moby Grape track, “Haru Ranman” combines byrdsian folk with a roaming west coast feel, while “Sorairo no Crayon” dabbles with country & western, replete with pedal steel and a yodeled outro.  “Natsu Nandesu” and “Kaze wo Atsumete” have a soulful, bucolic charm, the latter finally getting its due via 2003’s Lost In Translation soundtrack. “Dakishimetai” sounds like a classic 70s rock anthem and “Hanaichimonme” grooves like a freight train, prodded along by rolling guitar licks and driving piano. “Ashita Tenki ni Naare” gets to funky rhythm and blues featuring a fantastic Beegees multi-falsetto vocal part. And then there’s “Taifuu” (typhoon), the clear alpha dog of the set. On this authorative rocker the singer lets it all out with gnarly, gutteral yelps and grunts.

Even the slightest investment in this record should prove the attraction goes way beyond novelty.  The sound is instantly recognizable feel-good rock and easily transcends the language barrier. Had these gentlemen hailed from California and sang in English, Happy End would have been a household name.

The lead man, Haroumi Hosono, would later form the sensational Yellow Magic Orchestra (titans of the pre-midi synth age) and continues to make music with his electronica duo, Sketch_Show.

Happy End - 1970 - Happy End

Happy End
Happy End

01. Come, spring
02. Hide-and-seek
03. Shinshin
04. Sky that can not fly
05. Remember the enemy - Thanatos!
06. Ayaka City's Bathroom
07. Rainy day in December
08. Annoyance
09. Morning
10. Happy end
11. Continue Happy No.

12. Rainy day in December (unreleased version) (Bonus Track)
13. Rainy day in December (single version) (Bonus Track)
14. Nervous (Long Fade Out Edit) (Bonus Track)
15. Morning (Take 3) (Bonus Track)
16. Letter ("Gather the Wind" Rehearsal · Take) (Bonus Track)

Eiichi Ohtaki: Twelve-String Guitar, Guitar [6-String], Vocals
Haruomi Hosono: Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Shigeru Suzuki: Lead Guitar, Celesta
Takashi Matsumoto: Drums, Percussion

Happy End occupies a lonely place in the Japanese pantheon of rock divinities, for the band’s members were the first to be brave (and percipient) enough to insist on presenting their songs in the Japanese language. This was at a time when such an idea was still considered un-authentic and slightly gauche, but the band persisted and ultimately won the day. Unlike most contemporary Japanese bands of the time, Happy End also refused to sweeten their albums with scatterings of Western rock covers, which has resulted in their work having long term homeland respect but precious little of musical value to the keen Western Japrock freak. For the truth is that Happy End’s music is most reminiscent of soft rock such as WHEATFIELD SOUL-period Guess Who, a slightly heavier CS&Y and Badfinger, and contains no real musical highs such as guitar or organ solos of merit. Happy End was formed in 1969 by Apryl Fool’s highly talented rhythm section Haruomi Hosono and Takashi Matsumoto, who were both songwriters of considerable note. The band signed to the experimental and visionary record label URC (Underground Record Club), which had set its sights on celebrating Japan-o-centric culture statements, many of which are too insular for most Western rock ears. The band’s first LP HAPPY END was to these ears their best effort by far, each subsequent release being slightly blander, although the second LP LAEMACHI ROMAN has its moments. Signing to the larger King record label, Happy End had Van Dyke Parks produce their third LP confusingly also entitled HAPPY END. A concert recording from 1972 was released posthumously in 1974 as the LP LIVE HAPPY END.
The band existed between 1969-73, during which time they enjoyed no major record sales, but were always darlings of the rock critics, especially when they collaborated with Little Feat’s Lowell George on the song ‘Sayonara America, Sayonara Nippon’. They also had the nerve to back acoustic folk singer Nobuyasu Okabayashi when he went electric, even though it was considered a Dylan-like act of treachery to traditionalists. Nowadays, with all of its band members having achieved a consistent level of success, Happy End is best known for the song ‘Kaze Wo Atsumete’, which was featured in the movie LOST IN TRANSLATION. Bass player Hosono later formed the highly influencial Yellow Magic Orchestra, while drummer Matsumoto would later direct movies and write Top Ten hits for Eastern stars Agnes Chan, Masahiro Kuwana and Seiko Matsuda.

Julian Cope

Between 1970 and 1973, Happy End explored the possibilities of blending Western folk singing with Japanese melodies. Unlike many other bands of this era, Happy End, led by Haroumi Hosono and Takashi Matsumoto, sang in Japanese, a highly influential gesture in this anglophone-dominated era. Hosono later went on to form the Yellow Magic Orchestra.
The band's pioneering avant-garde sound is highly revered, and they are considered to be one of the most influential bands in Japanese music. 

This album is great! The first of three studio albums from Happy End. Many people may think that Happy End is a Western-style rock band from Japan, yes, they are a rock band, but very Japanese. The lyrics by Matsumoto Takashi are great, and if you like "Kaze Machi Roman", this album is a must! They go together perfectly...different but still consistent. The opening song "Haru yo Koi" just rocks..reminds me of Hot Tuna's "Phosphorescent Rat" just a tad bit. This album is more free and psychedelic. If you like Jefferson Airplane, early RC Succession, Nick Drake, or late 60's rock, folk rock, you will love this album! Highly recommended and if the bonus tracks are on here, the alternate take of "Juunigatsu no Ame no Hi" is awesome.

All the album's lyrics were written by Takashi Matsumoto, with the exception of "Tobenai Sora" (Haruomi Hosono) and "Ira Ira" (Eiichi Ohtaki).
This album marked an important turning point in Japanese music history, as it sparked what would be known as the "Japanese-language rock controversy" (Nihongo Rokku Ronso?). There were highly publicized debates held between prominent figures in the Japanese rock industry, most notably the members of Happy End and Yuya Uchida, regarding whether Japanese rock music sung entirely in Japanese was sustainable (previously, almost all popular rock music in Japan was sung in English). The success of Happy End's debut album, as well as their following album Kazemachi Roman, proved the sustainability of Japanese-language rock in Japan

Who'da thought that the best Crosby Stills Nash & Young album would actually be a Hosono Ohtaki Matsumoto & Suzuki album?

Dew - 1971 - Live


01. Empty Bed Blues
02. Hurt
03. The Summer Is Over
04. Hoochie Coochie Man
05. Pair-Blues
06. My Angel
07. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

- Fumio Nunoya (vocals)
- Hisao Ono (guitar)
- Tsuneo Matsumoto (bass)
- Masami Naito (drums)

Recorded Live At The 2nd All Japan Folk Jamboree 7th August 1971

Dew was formed in January 1970. Dominated by vocalist Fumio Nunoya, ex-singer with New Rock act Blues Creation and Group Sounds act The Bickies, both of which he had formed with Kazuo Takeda, in 1969. Nunoya was also with band Taboo whom he formed with future Happy End star Eiichi Otaki. Evidence of only two Dew songs survive, both recorded at the Genya Protest Festival, and both featuring on the soundtrack LP on Elec Records. However, the band split up soon afterwards.

Maki Asakawa - 1974 - Maki VI

Maki Asakawa
Maki VI

01. Watashi No Kinyoubi
02. Minato Machi
03. Gin House Blues
04. Cabaret
05. Anna Onna Ha Hajimete No Blues
06. Konya Ha Oshimai
07. To Wo Tataku No Ha.Dare
08. Rags And Old Iron

Alto Saxophone – Akira Sakata (tracks: A4, B4)
Bass – Kunimitsu Inaba (tracks: A2 to A4, B1, B2, B4)
Drums – Takeo Moriyama (tracks: A2 to A4, B1, B2, B4)
Piano – Yosuke Yamashita
Vocals – Maki Asakawa

Recorded live 19 September 1974 at Kanda Kyoritsu Auditorium (??????) in Tokyo.

Maki Asakawa (Asakawa Maki, January 27, 1942 – January 17, 2010) was a Japanese jazz and blues singer, lyricist and composer.

Born in Mikawa (now part of the city of Hakusan), Ishikawa Prefecture, after graduating high school she worked for a time as a teller in the local national pensions office before moving to Tokyo. Particularly influenced by the styles of Mahalia Jackson and Billie Holiday, she began her career singing at US Army bases and at cabarets.

Asakawa made her debut recording, "Tokyo Banka/Amen Jiro" with Victor in 1967. After appearing in a series of concerts organized by underground playwright Shuji Terayama in 1968, she signed with Toshiba, presently EMI Music Japan, and released the popular songs Yo ga aketara; At the Break of Dawn and Kamome; Gull in 1969. Her debut album, Asakawa Maki no Sekai; Maki Asakawa's World, was released in 1970.

In addition to writing and composing, she also released cover versions of US traditional folk and blues, freely rendered into Japanese, such as "Asahi no ataru ie" (The House of the Rising Sun).

She became popular in the 1970s and had made more than 30 releases by the end of the 1990s, after which she was mostly known for performing live.

Asakawa collaborated with musicians such as Yosuke Yamashita and Ryuichi Sakamoto. She continued performing live until the time of her death. Scheduled to perform in Nagoya January 15–17, 2010, she died before her show on the 17th, at the age of 67, of heart failure.

Doji Morita - 1976 - Mother sky

Doji Morita 
Mother sky

01. ぼくたちの失敗 3:22
02. ぼくと観光バスに乗ってみませんか 3:14
03. 伝書鳩 3:26
04. 逆光線 2:39
05. ピラビタール 3:38
06. 海を見たいと思った 2:50
07. 男のくせに泣いてくれた 3:18
08. ニューヨークからの手紙 2:54
09. 春爛漫 2:42
10. 今日は奇蹟の朝です 5:17

I saw this album being mentioned by several people as I was lurking around RYM for psychedelic-folk recommendations, so I decided to check it out. As the opening track rolled along, I thought to myself, “Boy, this sure sounds a lot like the stuff my parents would play when others were around so everyone could laugh at my screaming.“ Yet, I found myself immediately captivated and wanting more. Perhaps it was because I had become more mature and open to music that the “cool” kids I wanted to be like in the past weren’t listening to. Or maybe it’s simply because this album has enough pulling power to attract those normally repelled by this type of music. But whatever the case, Mother Sky has become one of my most-rotated albums.

Perhaps the album’s highlight is Douji Morita’s excellent songwriting ability. The songs sound ordinary on the surface like most pop music, but they don’t try to force an impression onto the listener. This gives the album a natural, composed atmosphere that makes it accessible to listeners of all ages while leaving plenty of room for depth and even a little experimentation. And sure enough, Douji Morita fills up that depth with all the emotion she can fit in. When a song is supposed to be sad, melancholy floods the room. And when a song is supposed to be soothing, the listener is instantly pacified. A good example of this would be ぼくたちの失敗 (Bokutachi No Shippai), the album’s opener. Using a soft piano, lush violin accompaniment, and Douji Morita’s voice, the song creates a natural, calming atmosphere that naturally radiates calmness. Unfortunately, I don’t know Japanese very well, so I can’t make any judgment on the lyrics. I will say, though, that you don’t need to understand them to enjoy the music.

The musicianship is great as well. Douji Morita’s collected and unassuming voice is perfect for this kind of melancholic, emotion-oriented folk, and she utilizes that voice in a very natural manner. All of the instruments utilized fit in with the atmosphere perfectly and add to it as opposed to simply just being there. There are no awkward moments where an instrument is fumbling over what it is supposed to be doing or whether it is even supposed to be there. Rather, everything is carefully laid out such that all the instruments work together in harmony.

To sum it up, Mother Sky is an amazing listen and an exemplary example of psychedelic folk. The album twists the general drugged-out mood of psychedelic folk, adding chamber folk, baroque pop, and older Japanese pop into the mix to create a melancholic album filled to the brim with emotion. Casual music listeners and music geeks alike will almost certainly find something to take away from this album.

Morita Doji - 1975 - Good Bye

Morita Doji 
Good Bye

01. Soshun Nite
02. Kimi Ha Kawachatta Ne
03. Mabushii Natsu
04. Ame No Kuroru (Crawl)
05. Chiheisen
06. Sentimental Dori
07. Samishii Kumo
08. Tango No sekku
09. Shu
10. Sayonara Boku No Tomodachi

Morita Doji (born January 15, 1952) is a Japanese psych folk singer-songwriter. Background She was 20 years old when a friend's death inspired her first album. She ended her career as musician in 1983, after giving a final concert in Tokyo.
Wonderfully melodramatic, each song sounds like a credit theme to a movie tragedy. A collection of sweet and beautiful laments to a passed friend with monumental orchestral elements, cool guitar solos, all packed in a lovely old-fashioned attitude.

Hako Yamasaki - 1976 - Tightrope walking

Hako Yamasaki 
Tightrope walking

01. Opposing wind
02. White Flower
03. Sunflower
04. Ceiling
05. Help Me
06. Hitori Uta
07. Harmonica blowing man
08. Tightrope
09. I want to sing
10. Birthday celebration
11. Forgiveness Zarui Love (1974 Demo)

Release on May 25, 1976

Acoustic Guitar – Toshiaki Usui (tracks: A1, A3 to A5, B2 to B5)
Drums [Yamaha] – Kazuaki Misago (tracks: A1, A3, A5, B2, B4, B5)
Electric Bass – Masakazu Fujii (tracks: A1, A3, A5, B2, B4, B5)
Electric Guitar – Masaki Matsubara (tracks: A1, A3, A5, B2, B4, B5)
Keyboards – Jun Sato (tracks: A3, A4, B3, B4), Kazuo Nobuta (tracks: A1, A5, B2, B5)

Hako Yamasaki - 1975 - Flying...

Hako Yamasaki

01. Nice town
02. Wandering
03. Kagoshiruma
04. House over there bridge
05. Goodbye's bell
06. Takebo
07. Can not see the shadow
08. Change my mood
09. I will fly
10. Lullaby
11. Male and female room

Released on October 1, 1975

Acoustic Guitar – Cyuuei Yoshikawa (tracks: A4 to B5), Hako Yamasaki (tracks: A4), Hiromi Yasuda (tracks: A1, A3), Kazuyoshi Osada (tracks: A2)
Bass [Electric] – Ken Yoshida (tracks: B2), Rei Ohara (tracks: A1, A3, A5, B3, B4)
Bass [Wood] – Kenji Takamizu (tracks: A2), Kimio Koizumi (tracks: B1)
Drums – Syuichi Murakami (tracks: A1 to A3, A5, B2 to B4)
Guitar [Electric] – Hisato Takenaka (tracks: A5, B2), Kenji Omura (tracks: A5, B2 to B4)
Keyboards – Jun Sato (tracks: A2, A5 to B4), Minoru Kuribayashi (tracks: A1, A3)

Hako Yamasaki didn’t have a lasting commercial career in Japan, but she did leave behind some of the best forlorn and depressing pop songs from the Japan’s 1970s music scene. Hako had one of those haunting, lingering voices that works its way into the musical arrangements of her songs.

I am a little surprised that the New-Weird America crowd has not picked up on her psychedelic tinged tunes the way they have other artists from the same period. I have no doubt that she had an influence on the Japanese scene that would develop decades later (I first learned of her existence from a record store clerk in Tokyo, who was kind enough to show me some unsung Japanese artists), and hopefully a rediscovering of her music will take place.

Ah, I have a weak spot for old Japanese (surprise surprise) pop...

Something along the lines of Morita Doji, but not quite like her. Don't get me wrong they are both great singers but they differ in voice characteristics a lot. For example Moritas voice is soft while Hakos voice is much more passionate and determined but they are both rooted in melancholic sound in their songs (atleast it sounds like that to me). Musically is also awesome. It has everything 70s music needs (those famous rock organs (if they are called like that :o), electric guitars etc.) but there are also songs that are just acoustic guitars and Hakos lovely desperate voice.

Wes Montgomery - 1968 - Down Here On The Ground

Wes Montgomery 
Down Here On The Ground

01. Wind Song 2:18
02. Georgia On My Mind 2:42
03. The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener 2:32
04. Down Here On The Ground 3:38
05. Up And At It 4:10
06. Goin' On To Detroit 3:30
07. I Say A Little Prayer For You 3:10
08. When I Look In Your Eyes 3:03
09. Know It All (Quem Diz Que Sabe) 2:55
10. Theme From The Fox 2:55

Bass – Ron Carter
Cello – George Ricci
Drums – Grady Tate
Flute, Oboe – George Marge, Hubert Laws, Romeo Penque
Guitar – Wes Montgomery
Percussion – Bobby Rosengarden, Ray Barretto
Piano – Herbie Hancock
Vibraphone – Mike Mainieri
Viola – Emanuel Vardi
Violin – Gene Orloff, Raoul Poliakin

Recorded December 20, 21, 1967 and January 22, 26, 1968 at Van Gelder Studio.

Wes Montgomery was one of the great jazz guitarists, a natural extension of Charlie Christian, whose appealing use of octaves became influential and his trademark. He achieved great commercial success during his last few years, only to die prematurely.
It had taken Wes a long time to become an overnight success. He started to teach himself guitar in 1943 (using his thumb rather than a pick) and toured with Lionel Hampton during 1948-1950; he can be heard on a few broadcasts from the period. But then Montgomery returned to Indianapolis, where he was in obscurity during much of the 1950s, working a day job and playing at clubs most nights. He recorded with his brothers vibraphonist Buddy and electric bassist Monk during 1957-1959 and made his first Riverside album (1959) in a trio with organist Melvin Rhyne. In 1960 the release of his album The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery made him famous in the jazz world. Other than a brief time playing with the John Coltrane Sextet (which also included Eric Dolphy) later in the year, Wes would be a leader for the rest of his life.
Montgomery's recordings can be easily divided into three periods. His Riverside dates (1959-1963) are his most spontaneous jazz outings, small-group sessions with such sidemen as Tommy Flanagan, James Clay, Victor Feldman, Hank Jones, Johnny Griffin, and Mel Rhyne. The one exception was the ironically titled Fusion!, a ballad date with a string section. All of the Riverside recordings have been reissued in a massive 12-CD box set. With the collapse of Riverside, Montgomery moved over to Verve, where during 1964-1966 he recorded an interesting series of mostly orchestral dates with arranger Don Sebesky and producer Creed Taylor. These records were generally a good balance between jazz and accessibility, even if the best performances were small-group outings with either the Wynton Kelly Trio or Jimmy Smith.
In 1967 Wes signed with Creed Taylor at A&M and during 1967-1968 he recorded three best-selling albums that found him merely stating simple pop melodies while backed by strings and woodwinds. His jazz fans were upset, but Montgomery's albums were played on AM radio during the period. He helped introduce listeners to jazz, and his live performances were as freewheeling as his earlier Riverside dates. Unfortunately at the height of his success, he died of a heart attack. However, Montgomery's influence is still felt on many young guitarists.
Wes Montgomery acceded to the whims of producer Creed Taylor for this, one of the very first CTI productions that would, over the next decade, popularize jazz with string backdrops or rhythm & blues beats. Much to either the delight or chagrin of urban or traditional jazz fans, the music changed, and Montgomery was in the middle, though his delightful playing was essentially unchanged. On the plus side, the legendary guitarist was allowed to collaborate with great musicians like bassist Ron Carter, pianist Herbie Hancock, flutist Hubert Laws, and percussionist Ray Barretto. While the small orchestral trappings never dominate this session, the seeds for a more grandiose style of music had been planted with the release of this date in 1968. The arrangements of Don Sebesky are for the most part pretty, unobtrusive, and pleasant but lack groove and soul in the main. "Wind Song" is exactly as its title suggests, a light funk loaded up with chords and woodwinds. The melody of "Georgia on My Mind" is barely stated although the strings are subtle; "I Say a Little Prayer" is a sappy tune made into Muzak; oboe and cello bring "When I Look Into Your Eyes" into an ultimately maudlin arena; and Lalo Schifrin's theme from "The Fox" has the same instrumental complement, more film noir, and parallel to Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Theme to the Eulipions" if you compare them side by side. The best material is the light funk of Montgomery's original "Up & at It" in a small ensemble, nice enough, and the roots of so-called "smooth" jazz. The bright samba "Know It All" best showcases the guitarist and Hancock's luminous piano, reflecting the classic "No More Blues," while "Goin' on to Detroit" is a typical Montgomery-styled, cool road song featuring Laws. In may real and important ways, this is the beginning of the end for Montgomery as a jazz artist, and the inception of bachelor pad lounge/mood music that only lasted for a brief time. This recording, with no extra material, alternate takes, or bonus tracks, cannot compare to Charlie Parker with strings. It does fall in that category of recordings where the musicians chose to produce, rather than create their personal brand of jazz, and is at the very least an historical footnote.

Walter Wanderley - 1969 - Moondreams

Walter Wanderley 

01. Asa Branca 4:30
02. L'Amore Dice Ciao 2:35
03. Penha 2:40
04. One Of The Nicer Things 3:05
04. Proton, Electron, Neutron 2:40
05. 5:30 Plane 3:38
06. Soulful Strut 3:00
07. Moondreams 2:30
08. Jackie, All 3:25
09. Mirror Of Love

Bass – George Duvivier, Jose Marino, Richard Davis
Drums – Joao Palma
Flugelhorn – Bernie Glow, Marvin Stamm
Flute – Danny Bank, Hubert Laws, Jerome Richardson, Joe Soldo, Romeo Penque
Organ, Harpsichord [Electric] – Walter Wanderley
Percussion – Airto Moreira, Lulu Ferreira
Trumpet – Bernie Glow
Viola – Archie Levin, David Mankovitz, Emanuel Vardi, Harold Coletta, Harry Zaratzian, Richard Dickler, Theodore Israel, Warren Tekula
Vocals – Flora Purim, Linda November, Stella Stevens, Susan Manchester

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios March 11-13 1969.

Walter Wanderley was a talented and gifted organist with an acute ear for new harmonies. With 46 recorded solo albums in his entire career, both in Brazil and the U.S., he reached number 26 on the Billboard pop charts in September 1966, opening a large pathway of success only menaced by himself and his complex character. Ten years after his death from cancer, with a new fad coming, he was repackaged by the entertainment industry as a mere lounge player, carrying his record sales even further and sending the cost of his out-of-print albums to the stratosphere, but all at the cost of minimizing his significance. It is forgotten that the time lag worked against him and what today is lounge music was then innovative and revolutionary. With all those fans of samba-canção divas feeling personally insulted by those percussive rhythms reminiscent of a Brazilian black tradition that was not dear to the average Brazilian, it has to be stressed that the bossa nova movement, and Wanderley within it, had the role of affirming Brazilian identity in a broader cultural industry which was developed out of the folkloric redoubts. In fact, he also has an upbeat production full of that energy provided by his distinctive staccato stuttering style, immediately reminiscent of authentic Brazilian rhythmic and percussive impetus. He also improvised extended melodic solos without reheated licks, but that was obviously also left out of his most popular albums.

At five, he was already playing the piano. At 12, he attended the Licee of Arts for a year of theory classes, later studying harmony and arranging. Beginning his professional career while still in Recife, a most lively city with a vibrant cultural life, he worked every night either at the piano or at the organ. At 26, in 1958, he moved to São Paulo and immediately became an active player in nightclubs such as the Claridge, the Captain's Bar, and Oásis. Wanderley's first recording was in August 1959 for Odeon, with Carlos Lyra's "Lobo Bobo." Backing his wife, Brazilian singer Isaurinha Garcia (with whom he had a daughter, Monica), he recorded for the second time one month later. At that time, he was Garcia's accompanist and arranger. He would record another six LPs accompanying Garcia and another 19 solo albums in Brazil for several labels; he was left out of some of the credits because of his contract with Philips. Wanderley became known on the artistic scene for recording young artists, like Marcos Valle, Tom Jobim, João Donato, and others, until then with no expression out of the little nightclubs in which they performed on a nightly basis. But as the tunes and arrangements were fun to dance to, the albums sold very well. João Gilberto's João Gilberto (later reissued as O Mito in Brazil and as The Legendary João Gilberto in the U.S. in 1990 by World Pacific) from 1961 also had Walter in it. An impatient Wanderley then bent under Gilberto's oppressive, meticulous direction on March 10. That was the third album Gilberto was recording for Odeon and would be the last. Until then, Gilberto had Tom Jobim as pianist and Aluísio de Oliveira as producer. In spite of his frequent discussions with de Oliveira, the producer was the person who mediated Gilberto's hard relationship with Jobim. But de Oliveira had left Odeon the previous September, and Jobim didn't want to be scheduled for that recording. Gilberto, not knowing how to write music, insisted on expressing his musical vision of overall arrangements by singing, and that not only included the tones themselves, but the expression, timbre, and articulation. This drove Wanderley mad, especially with a certain sound effect of a boat's siren for "O Barquinho" ("Little Boat"), which was never good enough for Gilberto. The next day, Gilberto interrupted the recording of that album, only resuming it five months later with Jobim as musical director. Wanderley went on with his career and life, beginning an association with singer Claudette Soares in 1963, as an arranger and accompanist. His marriage was broken at this period. He also recorded for several renowned Brazilian singers in that time, among them Dóris Monteiro and Geraldo Vandré. It was when Tony Bennett saw Wanderley during a Brazilian tour and was taken by his playing. He urged Wanderley to move to the U.S. and, he himself talked about him to Verve Records producer Creed Taylor, also giving Taylor some of Wanderley's albums. After some insistence, Taylor sent contracts for Wanderley and his trio to record a single. So in 1966, they recorded brothers Marcos and Paulo Sérgio Valle's "Samba de Verão" ("Summer Samba"). It was an instant success, with radio stations playing it four or five times per hour. In that same year, the LP Rain Forest came out, also selling very well and was certified platinum (one million units sold) in two years. The trio accompanied Astrud Gilberto on her A Certain Smile, a Certain Sadness album, also in 1966. He would record six more solo LPs or singles for Verve until the next year, and ten more in his career in the U.S. He always sold well and had a full performing schedule, in which local presentations at the San Francisco area were interspersed with some tours to Mexico. He never did return to Brazil after moving to the U.S. and he went on with his life until death caught up with him.

Wanderley's second album during Creed Taylor's A&M residency opens with a bang, a fantastic rendition of the old Northern Brazilian standard "Asa Branca" that evokes the exhilaration of a street carnival. Midway through, the tempo kicks up, the band settles into a two-chord vamp, and the performance lifts into orbit; even the normally mild-mannered Wanderley dances wildly on organ and electric harpsichord. Nothing else here, even the provocatively titled "Proton, Electron, Neutron," approaches "Asa Branca"'s energy. Yet on the whole, this is a somewhat better album than its predecessor on A&M; the sound is more open and less confined. The selection remains predominantly Brazilian, with an occasional American ringer like "Soulful Strut" and another Jimmy Webb tune, "5:30 Plane." The female voices (one of whom is Flora Purim) return on a few tracks; so do Hubert Laws and Romeo Penque on flutes. Eumir Deodato is in charge of the mauve-colored charts for flutes, trumpets and violas, and Airto Moreira makes an early impression pumping up the percussion section.

The landing on the moon is the utmost important and boundary-breaking incident of the 21st century, hued in positivism, a landmark of technocracy. As such, it provides the truth that has always been radiated in Space-Age albums: technology is going to save us all, or what else to call the wonders of nogahyde, optimized seeds and perennial colors for one’s front porch. Not so surprisingly, Brazil’s premier organist Walter Wanderley (1932–1986) falls prey to the lure of the moon, the result being a superb amalgamation of Hammond organ vestibules, electric harpsichord fusillades, cherry violas, a smooth brass hydrazine as well as gleeful vocals. These entities become enmeshed in an aural propulsion called Moondreams.

Recorded on three consecutive days in March 1969 and released in the same year on A&M Records, it is a costly affair due to the huge amount of musicians and instruments involved in the studio. Wanderley is clearly and rightfully in the limelight and foreshadows the success of the big event that has yet to come, but his balmy organ droplets are skillfully underlined and at times even outshadowed by the talent of drummer Joao Palma, trumpeter Bernie Glow, the vocal allure of Flora Purim, Linda November, Stella Stevens and Susan Manchester as well as the whopping amount of eight viola players, five flutists, three bassists and a bag of surprises. How, then, is the organist able to plant the lush greenery of Rain Forest (1966) into space?

The moon is close, the rocket is waiting, Walter Wanderley transforms the Samba-filled streets into an aeriform milky way on the opener Asa Branca. Originally composed by Humberto Teixeira and Luiz Gonzaga, the bandleader kicks off the spacy mélange with his raspy holiness, the electric harpsichord whose plinking laser pulses conflate with the car horn autochthony of the Hammond organ. Joao Palma’s sizzling hi-hats are cautiously accompanying the coruscating enigma. Euphonious and later greatly underlined by melodious chords, the standard eventually leads to Wanderley’s own L’Amore Dice Ciao, a mauve-tinted Space-Age ditty with mixed choirs, Bernie Glow’s flügelhorn sinews that evoke Brazilian melancholy and last but not least, polyrhythmic cannelures that range from 4/4 boosts to Waltz flares.

The bandleader continues the journey with another original: Penha is a laid-back Gothic beach scenery that shuttles between Baroque powder and sun-dappled chords from Rio, all the while Jimmy Webb’s One Of The Nicer Things vaporizes a gorgeous New Age-oid paradise of cauterized organ blebs and polylayered flute washes. With no care in the world and insouciance revved up to the max, side A closes with Wanderley’s stacked bleepfest Proton, Electron, Neutron whose calcined trumpet emissions are alloyed by twinkling organs and rounded off by a gurgling-hollow bongo beat.

Jimmy Webb’s 5:30 Plane greets the listener on side B, making the traveler aware of the fact that orbit has to be reached yet again. However, said plane is poised to take off for sure as the English lyrics of the Space-Age choir intermix with the soothing loungerie of eight violas, lift muzak percussion and crisp harpsichord splinters. Mellifluous and auroral, the next stop comes soon enough in the shape of a saffron-colored Eugene Record‘s and Sonny Sanders’ Soulful Strut that evokes the Brazilian way of life as best it can. An uplifting moiré of iridescent organ vesicles and scintillating harpsichord helixes tumbles around trumpet protrusions, George Duvivier’s bubbly bass and several flute flumes par excellence.

Norman Petty’s title-lending gold standard Moondreams follows suit. Made popular by Budy Holly, Wanderley and his men turn things around by focusing on pre-Disco legato washes, glistening slivers and a transformed show tune physiognomy before George Benson’s and Will Downing‘s Jackie All comes into play. Functioning as sort of a an appendix, it keeps both the pace and textures and embeds the mellifluous brass layers in thickly wadded viola-based cushions of cotton candy. Ray Davies’ Mirror Of Love closes the album via luring English Space-Age lyrics, multiplexed organ cataracts and a decortication based on the Hammond organ. The harmony is once again ultra-catchy, making the closure of the album all the more painful. Hit repeat and fly away one more time!

Walter Wanderley’s Space-Age opera is a stupendous trip that works so fantastically well due to its easygoing atmosphere. In lieu of multitudinous textures and extravagant riffs, it is the close encounters of the textures and their symmetry that make this album a feast for the senses. Both Wanderley’s electric harpsichord and organ are the ever-important devices of every arrangement. They remain in the limelight for obvious reasons, but it is still astonishing how effective the gyration tendency and titration process work to the album’s advantage. There seems to be a lactal veil spanned over the whole recording. Like a crimson reticulation it soothes the soul and alters the perception, but doesn’t degrade the high fidelity of the record, nor is it prone to limewash the luminescence.

Even the harpsichord, while clearly being the roughest and hardest-to-tame inclusion of Moondreams, still emits a certain magic timbre that is otherwise amiss in Henry Mancini’s over-the-top productions where it harms the balance; Music Of Hawaii (1996) and Symphonic Soul (1975) come to mind in particular. Not so on Wanderley’s album: the occasionally incongruent timbre ennobles the lactal listening experience and makes a galactic corker out of an album that is otherwise bound by gravity, as shown in the Samba-oriented material. It is even more disturbing that the album has not yet been reissued or remastered, so the vinyl version or rips thereof need to do it in the meantime.