Wednesday, May 9, 2018

John Lee & Gerry Brown - 1979 - Chasers

John Lee & Gerry Brown 

01. Chaser 5:59
02. Will It Last? 4:43
03. Fate Ripper 4:33
04. Daily Planets 3:52
05. Celebration 4:43
06. What It If 4:37
07. New Waves 4:16
08. Prospect Park 4:54

Guitar – Eef Albers
Piano, Synthesizer – Kenneth Knudsen
Bass, Percussion – John Lee
Drums, Percussion – Gerry Brown
Tenor Saxophone – Bobby Malach

This is one of my favorites of all time. The mood this recording sets is simply timeless. Not everyone is a fusion fan but if are you will be transported to a special place when listening to this recording. The rhythms and bass lines are supported by a stellar cast that will move you through the streets of the city. After a round or two at your favorite village pub and favorite club circa '79 you head over to Brooklyn to hang with the boys. There are some really happy times and some uncertain like the late night walk through Prospect Park talking about the meaning of life. Well that is just some imagery I think of when I hear this recording that is way beyond due for an official CD release. Fate Ripper has in my honest opinion one of the best opening bass solos of all time. The timing and structure of the crunchy bass chords strumming to climatic finish just in time to have the dual guitars of Eef Albers and Darryl Thompson blow your mind. I really hope this gets released officially so I can buy 100 copies and give them away to people I know appreciate awesome music.

Dieter Scherf Trio - 1974 - Inside-Outside Reflection

Dieter Scherf Trio
Inside-Outside Reflection

01. Innen-Außenspielgelungen 3:54
02. Daijededa 7:16
03. Atemzirkulation 3:02
04. Drum Und Dran (Nach Dem Morgen) An Dem Du Das Dritte Ei Für Voll Genommen Hast, Muzi!) 6:27
05. Prozess 13:25
06. Klänge Über Linie 6:02

Recorded: Biton-Studio Ffm [Frankfurt/Main] tracks A1 to A4, B2 and Life-Mitschnitt aus dem Jazz House Wiesbaden track B1.
Recorded in 1974.

Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Piano – Dieter Scherf
Bass – Jacek Bednarek
Drums – Paul Lovens

Inside-Outside Reflections dates from 1974. As with similar releases, this is a welcome addition to the catalogue for both musical and historical reasons. It also saves collectors from taking out a small mortgage to acquire a copy; this one is as rare as hen's teeth on vinyl.
Dieter Scherf is a relatively unknown reeds player, but this should not deter listeners. He is an inventive, free-blowing player who is not short of ideas but does not flit around, either; on each piece here, he is disciplined and focused, establishing and sustaining a mood. At times he is reminiscent of Brötzmann's bull-in-a-china shop approach, but he lacks his countryman's relentless raw power. "Breathcirculation is a particularly appealing track, three minutes of sustained circular breathing that is relentless but avoids the common trap of some such playing, namely over-repetition leading to monotony.

For some, the presence of the 25 year-old Paul Lovens in the drum seat will be a prime attraction of this album. Already well-established and well-regarded by 1974 (Globe Unity Orchestra and Pakistani Pomade, among others, had seen to that), Lovens gives an object lesson in free drumming, interacting with the other members and providing forward momentum without confining their creativity.

The third member of the trio, Polish bassist Jacek Bednarek, also deserves praise. The longest track here, "Processing, provides him with an opportunity to impress, an opportunity he readily seizes. He builds a complex and varied solo that forms the cornerstone of the piece and acts as a launching pad for some adrenalin-fuelled trio interactions, leading into some of the album's best playing.

Prior to this album, the trio toured extensively together, and the playing here demonstrates the kind of interaction that can only develop through regular gigging. The cover pictures firmly set the album in the mid-'70s, including a shot of the group's battered VW touring van. But the music has stood the test of time well—better that the players' hairstyles!

Does anyone out there have a copy of the Dieter Scherf Quartet album from 1973 (Interaction)? I would really love to hear it!

Free Jazz Group Wiesbaden - 1971 - Frictions Now

Free Jazz Group Wiesbaden 
Frictions Now

01. Frictions Now Part 1 17:16
02. Frictions Now Part 2 18:34

Recorded on July 9, 1971 at Walldorf Studio, Walldorf, Germany.

Alto Saxophone, Oboe, Piano, Flute [Shepherd Flute], Bells – Dieter Scherf
Drums – Wolfgang Schlick
Guitar, Flute – Gerhard König
Trumpet – Michael Sell

FJGW consisted of Michael Sell (trumpet), Dieter Scherf (saxophones, oboe, piano, flutes, Shenai, trumpet), Dieter König (guitars, flutes) and Wolfgang Schlick (drums, percussion) and in the four years of its existence (1968 - 1972) the quartet recorded two albums. Frictions was released as an edition of 300 vinyl records on a private label in 1969 (the same year there was a second edition of 200). Then there was Frictions Now, the band’s sophomore album,which was recorded in 1971 and released as a limited edition of 500 vinyl records. Both albums are hard to get and even if you were lucky you would have to pay fantasy prices

The later recording, though freer and certainly more free-flowing, sounds equally well thought through, if not mapped out. “Frictions Now Part I” is focused, tempered and nuanced. It begins with König’s thrumming away like a bass beneath a freewheeling commingle of brass and reeds, all kept airborne by regular bass drum detonations and a welter of cymbal skims. Collective intensity is maintained throughout a performance that arcs from ardour to vehemence.

“Frictions Now Part II” is cooler but still intense, with an apparent AACM/Art Ensemble influence at first, particularly in König and Scherf’s early use of flute, then closer to the more combative Free Music Production (FMP) aesthetic. While the AACM in America and Free Jazz Group Wiesbaden were direct contemporaries, the latter’s fusion of free jazz and world music is distinctly their own, and this piece, which is increasingly focused on the grain of individual frictions, pure sound as noise, actually sounds contemporary today.

Nearing a conclusion, König’s tempered guitar solo with thematic trumpet accompaniment adds a Morricone-esque twist, but Scherf’s impassioned saxophony fires things up again, reprising the ardour and open intensity of “Frictions Part 1”.

After FJGW disbanded 1973, Scherf ran a short-lived trio with Paul Lovens and Jacek Bednarek (their only recording, Inside-Outside Reflections, was reissued in 2005 on Atavistic). Meanwhile Schell increasingly focused on composition, releasing music through his own MISP-Records imprint. Other details are hard to come by, König being represented on Discogs by only a single 1981 date backing vocalist Jürgen Albers.

Free Jazz Group Wiesbaden - 1969 - Frictions

Free Jazz Group Wiesbaden 

01. Intro Four For Four
02. Topology
03. Töne III
04. Sounds For M
05. Töne I
06. Ballad Allintervallreihe
07. Peaceless

Alto Saxophone, Oboe, Piano, Flute [Shepherd Flute], Bells – Dieter Scherf
Drums – Wolfgang Schlick
Guitar, Flute – Gerhard König
Trumpet – Michael Sell

The LP was recorded live on 12th July, 1969 in a first pressing of 300 copies.
Recording location: Walldorf Studio, Walldorf, Germany.

Unlike Braxton and Bailey, the Free Jazz Group Wiesbaden will likely be unfamiliar to most. They were active only from 1969-1972, and then mostly within Germany. They are an absolutely fabulous discovery.

The group featured two composers in trumpeter Michael Sell and multi-instrumentalist Dieter Scherf, alongside a strikingly original electric guitarist, Gerhard König, and a drummer, Wolfgang Schlick, whose style sounds distinctly contemporary today. Their togetherness on these dates is remarkable – there’s not an unfocused or unconcentrated moment on either of the two albums compiled here.

Their first release, Frictions, was recorded at Walldorf Studio on 12 July 1969, in sessions that yielded a single continuous piece lasting 37:32, which comprises seven interlinked sections with thematic composition credited individually to Scherf and Sell: “Intro For Four” (Scherf), “Topology” (Sell), “Töne” (Sell), “Sounds For M” (Scherf), “Töne I” (Sell), “Ballad-Allintervallreihe” (Scherf), “Peaceless” (Scherf).

“Frictions” opens with Scherf on piano, König on flute, and Schlick vigorous on toms, and this is the most dated passage of play on the album, evocative of any number early 70s multi-kulti enterprises. But there’s an effortless transition to full kit drumming behind twinned sax and trumpet, and the quartet are soon playing with focused intensity, Scherf’s sax ever on the cusp of plaintive anguish and hymnal ecstasy. Sell’s trumpet is Scherf’s more penetrating counterpart: both tonally and expressively they combine supremely well.

Transitions between the composed sections are distinct, sometimes abrupt, but smoothly negotiated. The quartet course through thematic material that offers plenty of variation—notably an exposed sax solo after 15 minutes—using it up and moving on in seemingly impulsive momentum.

In this bass-less context the ever-resourceful König’s guitar plays both rhythmic and counter-textural roles. Working in a small town at the birth of the free jazz movement, both König and Schlick had previously played in rock and soul groups, and the drummer, in particular, brings unashamed emphatics to bear. One of the more beautiful passages has wiry guitar chords chopped out over insistent polyrhythms, all sprinkled with glisters of inner piano.

Just occasionally, Scherf, in particular, sounds like Peter Brötzmann, whose milestone recording Machine Gun dates from only one year earlier. But in its free-ranging semi-structure FJGW’s music also evidences awareness of the 1950s innovations of Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman (Coleman and Don Cherry’s double voicing, in particular, is echoed in the Scherf/Sell sound), and touches on aspects of the music developed much later by jazz-rock outfits such as Nucleus to Last Exit.

What makes FJGW so great are the different and various musical means they have at hand: classic bebop riffs, world music influences, free collective improvisations, Kraut rock elements, 1960s psychedelia, etc. However, at the heart of their music is classic African-American free jazz. But although the two albums share the same impetus and approach, there is also an important difference: “Frictions“ is partly notated and presented as an uninterrupted piece although it actually consists of seven Sell/Scherf compositions: “Intro For Four“ is a trio of piano, flute and drums and reminds of Don Cherry’s double flute excursions; “Topology“ refers to the themes used by Albert Ayler’s groups just to drift off in a collective improvisation; “Töne“ is a duel between the reeds and the guitar and makes the impression of a modern jazz theme; “Sounds For M“ sounds like a Miles Davis riff, “Töne I“ is another short modern jazz interlude; “Ballad - Allintervallreihe“ is a theme played  unison before “Peaceless“, a marvelous reed drone, brings the track to an end. All this preconceived material serves to structure the improvisations, which are dominated by free, very energetic and atonal reed lines, fragmented and twitchy guitar chords and polyrhythmic whirlwinds. The whole conception can be described as a mixture of explicitly planned formal processes and a careful arrangement of sound layers on the one hand and spontaneous interactions and raw rhythmic eruptions on the other hand. The music unfolds in frequent variations of timbral textures.

Circle - 1972 - Paris Concert

Paris Concert

01. Nefertiti 18:26
02. Song For The Newborn 7:09
03. Duet 10:55
04. Lookout Farm / 73° Kalvin (Variation - 3) 16:25
05. Toy Room - Q & A 24:44
06. No Greater Love 17:40

Double Bass, Cello – David Holland
Percussion – Barry Altschul
Piano – Chick Corea
Reeds, Percussion – Anthony Braxton

Recorded on February 21, 1971 at the Maison de l'O.R.T.F., Paris.

The short-lived Chick Corea outfit outdoes itself in this 1971 live recording. A delicate piano intro primes us for an extended rendition of Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertitti” to start. Once Braxton throws himself on top of incoming bass and drums, however, what began as contemplative awakening quickly turns into a spastic jaunt into more upbeat territory. The gnarled unity of the quartet paints in bold strokes, all the while flirting with total breakdown. Braxton’s perpetual motion and uncompromising tone make a superb tune out of a great one. “Song For The Newborn” gives Holland a moment in the spotlight. Swaddled in all the innocence of its title and bound by a mature sense of structure, this is an engaging interlude to the Braxton/Corea duet that follows. Corea’s frenetic style in the latter works its way through a host of rhythmic options before settling into a row of block chords. Braxton’s heady phrasing tears a page from the book of Coltrane, while his solitary diversions crackle with the urgency of a broken mirror, as yet unframed by the bastion of mundanity. Altschul delights in “Lookout Farm,” in which he dives headfirst into his percussive arsenal. The tinkling of icicles and cowbells in an open field give way to an extended solo, thus providing ample segue into “73 506 Kelvin 8,” a beautifully convoluted organism that could only come from the mind of Braxton. Below its cacophonous surface pulsates a vast network of instrumental veins, through which flows the passionate immediacy that is Circle’s lifeblood, and from which Holland’s rapture sings with detail and imagination. “Toy Room ­ Q&A” (Holland) boasts Corea in notably fine form, leaving plenty of elbowroom for Braxton to flex his reeds. The freer aesthetic crashes in on itself by the end, leaving us craving a familiar foothold. This, we get in the standard “No Greater Love,” capping things off with notable turns from all.

Corea busts out with some of his most captivating fingerwork, proving himself finely attuned to the mechanisms of his caravan at every rest stop along the way; Braxton’s “Pharaonic” sound titillates the ear; and one could hardly ask for a tighter rhythm section at one’s side. As a collective unit, Circle doesn’t so much make music out of as inhabit its raw melodic materials. This recording is a lasting testament to a vibrant formative period for ECM. The audience’s enthusiastic reactions give the listener the feeling of being present in the making of history.

Circle - 1971 - Circle 2: Gathering

Circle 2: Gathering

01. Gathering - Part I
02. Gathering - Part II

Bass, Cello, Guitar, Percussion – Dave Holland
Drums, Piano [Finger], Percussion – Barry Altschul
Piano, Flute [Bamboo], Percussion – Chick Corea
Reeds, Percussion – Anthony Braxton

Recorded May 17, 1971 at Upsurge Studio, NYC.

Circle was a band born in a pressure-cooker. During its brief existence (roughly mid-70 / mid-71), it played with an anarchic flair and a reckless drive, rare for that time. Chick Corea and Dave Holland were coming off a 2-year stay with Miles Davis, in which they were his first ever full-time white band members, amid the Black Power era. Driven by Jack DeJohnette, they took the music more out than at any time in Miles' life. Said Corea, "We kept pushing and playing free, waiting for Miles to say something about it. He never did, so we pushed harder". Said Miles of Corea, "Just look at the guy. Music is pouring out of him".

In May 1969, this trio had been the core of Corea's raucous "Is" sessions", (thankfully reissued properly in 2002 on a Blue Note 2CD). Hard blowing, uninterrupted, free-form, open-ended improvisations and compositions. Then, enter drummer Barry Altschul, a master of pulse and miniaturized mayhem on his carefully tuned percussion. A man who could float 60's Paul Bley on the most delicate of gauze, yet drive a powerful free-jazz quartet with the most minuscule of sounds. In April 70, the trio of Corea, Holland and Altschul recorded "The Song of Singing", a studio session which still rings with a freshness and an inherent energy which refute its years. August 70, while Corea and Holland were still Miles' sidemen, enter Anthony Braxton. Wildcard. A man with a musical conception which threatened never to allow him to be anyone's sideman, and the inventor of a musically philosophical verbal jargon understood by few members of the human race. But Circle was a co-operative band, and the four members adapted fast. The music which happened in the studio suggested serious connections to the European avant-garde or the modern classical of the time, as much as free jazz. Live, anything could happen.

Live performance was Circle's forte. The finest recorded evidence is the "Paris Concert" of 21 February 71, issued first as a 2LP, then 2CD, by ECM. A vivid, thorny, raw document of the band in full-flight, whether on standards such as Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti" or on Holland's own intricate twinning of "Toy Room" and "Q&A". For those old enough to remember, in 1971 this was daring music.

Looking back, it was perhaps inevitable that this band would blow itself off the stage. Stories circulated of Corea breaking a glass onstage and rubbing the microphone into the shards, band-members taking to playing any instrument at random, Holland scraping the bass strings and his chest with the mic, much use of small percussion and, in the end, a sense of alienation took over. When the band finally ground to a halt, Corea said, "We were sending our audiences up the river… ". And thus the bubble burst.

Circle - 1971 - Circle 1 Live In German Concert

Circle 1 Live In German Concert

01. Medley: Toy Room / O And A 28:02
02. There Is No Greater Love 21:06

Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Bass Clarinet, Percussion – Anthony Braxton
Bass, Cello – Dave Holland
Drums, Percussion – Barry Altschul
Piano – Chick Corea

Recorded November 28, 1970 in Germany

Pianist Chick Corea and saxophonist Anthony Braxton were not destined to be creative partners for long. But the year these virtuosos spent in the free-jazz supergroup Circle proved to be a notable one. By 1970, Corea was a master of high-energy, abstract playing, thanks to his tenure in a particularly wild edition of Miles Davis’ group. And Braxton’s work alongside fellow Chicagoans like Wadada Leo Smith had already put a charge into progressive improvisers on multiple continents—though Braxton was also down in the mouth over the long odds he faced in getting his ambitious classical pieces heard in New York and Paris. On the night he met Corea, Braxton considered himself more of a chess-game hustler than a working musician.

The origin story goes that Braxton was prodded into a one-off gig by some longtime associates. After the concert, drummer Jack DeJohnette led the crew over to the Village Vanguard, where Corea was playing in a trio with drummer Barry Altschul and bassist Dave Holland (another Davis veteran, as was DeJohnette). Braxton sat in with Corea’s group, and when the night came to an end, the pianist gave Braxton his address and asked him over to jam. Six months later, CBS Records was taping a show by Corea, Braxton, Holland, and Altschul—a quartet going by the name Circle.

Isao Suzuki - 1977 - Cadillac Woman

Isao Suzuki
Cadillac Woman

01. Cadillac Woman
02. Bamboo
03. For All We Know
04. Blue Road
05. Going Home

Bass – Sam Jones
Cello, Bass – Isao Suzuki
Drums – Billy Higgins
Electric Guitar – Kazumasa Akiyama
Electric Guitar – Kazumi Watanabe

Recorded on April 13, 1977 in Tokyo.

Isao Suzuki is the grand master of jazz in Japan. He is a bassist, multi instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer, and bandleader. He was born on January 3, 1933 in Tokyo.

When he was a college student back in December 1953 he went to see Louis Armstrong All Stars in Tokyo. Milt Hinton, the best player ever, 43 at the time, was playing. Luckily Isao could see him playing from the front seat, and he was totally taken aback by Milt’s bass. When Milt said, “I pick and you clap,” and played solo bass very casually for 15 minutes, Isao was so moved by the sound that he couldn’t stop crying. Milt smiled at Isao when he noticed that Isao was so moved and crying. Isao was so fascinated by his performance, so three days later, Isao asked his mother to buy him a double bass.

Some time after Isao got the bass, a bandleader of a strip joint asked him if he wanted to play for them. The question, or his answer rather, would become the first step onto a professional path. At that time, live performing was very common and good strip theater had jazz players. Isao couldn’t do anything at the beginning, but he was able to read music scores and play in about six months. Among the customers frequenting the strip joint was guitarist Tony Tekiseira, a G.I. working with the military band. One day Tony invited Isao to the U.S. military base in Tokyo. He liked the way Isao played, and Isao joined his band. Isao spent three or four years there and gained confidence, because he played with real American jazzman.

In 1960, Isao joined a very popular band named George Kwaguchi and Big Four and sometimes it became George Kwaguchi and Big Four plus one, when Sadao Watanabe joined in. Isao was having lots of jam session at that time. Once Tony Scott, the clarinet player, listened to his performance and Tony wanted to play with him. Tony lived in 1960 to 1965, and joined hands with Isao throughout 1962 with the legendary Tony Scott quartet. After Tony left the band, Hidehiko Matsumoto joined and it became Hidehiko Matsumoto Quartet. This is where Isao met Paul Chambers. In 1964, lots of great musicians such as Miles Davis, Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers came to Japan for “the first world jazz festival.” Hidehiko Matsumoto Quartet was the only Japanese band to join the festival, then Isao met Paul and they spent lots of time together.

In 1966, Isao joined the Sadao Watanabe quartet, with pianist Masabumi Kikuchi and drummer Masahiko Togashi. After he quit Sadao Watanabe quartet, he became a band leader of a house band at Five Spot in Jiyugaoka that was ran by Teruo Isono who is very famous jazz critic in japan. Isao played every day for almost two years. Isono knew lots of people, and he brought great musicians such as Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver, Winton Kelly and Art Blakey, then Isao often played with them. Especially Blakey came there often and once he said, ‘Isao, come to Ner York and we can play together.’ So in 1970 he went to New York at the encouragement of Art Blakey and officially joined his lengendary group JAZZ MESSENGERS. He even stayed at Blakey’s place. During this time, he worked and recorded with Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Ella Fitzgerald, Wynton Kelly, Bobby Timmons, Jim Hall, Ron Carter, Sun Ra and others. Isao spent about a year with Art Blakey’s band and then returned to Japan.

Since his return to Japan, Isao has contributed to the development of many young musicians enlisting them as members of his band 'OMA SOUND', a practice which has kept his sound on the cutting-edge of progressive jazz to this day. “This might be Art Blakey’s influence. But in music, especially jazz, you don’t need to say anything. Experience is more important than anything else,” Isao said.

In 1971, guitarist Baden Powell came to Japan to have concerts tour and recordings. Isao was replacing an original bassist. “Despite of Isao Suzuki’s unplanned contribution he proved to be and equal and versatile musician, finding his way between Alfredo and Baden. It can only be guessed how this setting with the Japanese bass player influenced his future studio work. At the end of this year he sould seek again the collaboration with a professional Jazz bassist recording enough material for two records.” (

On his solo album “Self-Portrait” (1980), Suzuki played 20 or more instruments, sealing his unique standing in the Japanese jazz scene. Now, with more than 60 albums released, including several winners of the prestigious Japan Jazz Prize award, Suzuki's reputation as a unique leader of jazz in Japan has been secured.

Isao Suzuki Trio - 1976 - Black Orpheus

Isao Suzuki Trio 
Black Orpheus

01. Manha De Carnaval
02. Angel Eyes
03. Who Can I Turn To
04. In A Sentimental Mood
05. Blues

Bass, Cello – Isao Suzuki
Drums – Donald Bailey
Piano, Electric Piano – Tsuyoshi Yamamoto

Recorded on February 20, 1976 at AOI Studio, Tokyo.

Isao Suzuki is one of the most important recording artists on the TBM label. Until his last album “Touch!”, he usually recorded with Kazumi Watanabe on guitar and his old friend Kunihiko Sugano on piano. However, he thinks highly of Tsuyoshi Yamamoto on piano and at a joint concert with Kenny Burrell, Suzuki asked Yamamoto to join him. Yamamoto’s powerful technique and taste for swing are a good match for Suzuki.

While Donald Bailey is a really exciting drummer. Donald grew up in Philadelphia and has amassed a lot of experience, including playing with top organist Jimmy Smith for nearly eight years. Unique in his drums setting is that his snare is fixed extremely oblique and tom-toms were fixed close to the snare. In addition, various bells and chimes are usually hung up. His favorite style is jazz mixed with latin beat. His simple but exciting jazz beat is very attractive and influential in the group.

Sukuki is one of the j-jazz greats — and this is one of his top sessions, laid down for the TBM label in 1976. The album title is a bit of a red herring, since the only music from Black Orpheus is the first track, the classic Manha De Carnaval. That's also the standout track — but the whole of the album grooves very nicely too, thanks to Yamamoto's nifty keyboard work, especially on the Rhodes, with Donald Bailey anchoring everything most effectively.

Isao Suzuki Sextet - 1976 - Ako's Dream

Isao Suzuki Sextet 
Ako's Dream

01. Ako's Dream
02. Isao Family
03. Feel Like Makin' Love
04. Seven Come Eleven

Bass, Electric Bass – Motohiko Hamase
Cello – Isao Suzuki
Drums – Akira Doi
Guitar – Kazumasa Akiyama
Guitar – Kazumi Watanabe
Piano, Electric Piano, Synthesizer – Tsuyoshi Yamamoto

Recorded October 19 & 27, 1976 at Epicurus Studio, Tokyo.

It's 1976 in Osaka. Isao Suzuki's name appears in the liner notes on records by Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, Ella Fitzgerald. He's returned to Japan from New York City where he played with Kenny Burrell and has started his own ensemble, the Sextet. His instrumentation has expanded to cello and piccolo bass from his origins on the jazz double-bass. The result is Ako's Dream.

Isao Suzuki & His Fellows - 1976 - Touch

Isao Suzuki & His Fellows 

01. Touch 11:11
02. On The Trail 5:40
03. She's Funny That Way 9:25
04. Round About Midnight 10:14

Bass – Isao Suzuki
Congas – Yoichi Ogawa
Drums – Tetsujiro Obara
Guitar – Kazumi Watanabe
Guitar – Masayuki Ise
Piano – Kunihiko Sugano

Recorded on November 20 & 26, 1975 at Epicurus Studio, Tokyo.

Isao Suzuki & His Fellows featuring Kunihiko Sugano and the prominent leader of the Jazz Rock style during the eighties in japan, guitarist Kazumi Watanabe. Recorded in the late 1975 at Tokyo Epicurus Studio, released under Three Blind Mice label, "Touch" consists in an eclectic selection of styles ranging from Swing, Bossa Nova to Jazz rock (the opening song over 11 minutes with the Kazumi's long guitar riff), all involving various remarkable inspirational grooves from Suzuki. Titles include "Touch" composed by Mr. Suzuki, "On The Trail" from Jazz composer & concertmaster Ferde Grofé, "She's Funny That Way" to the bossa arrangements (based on a original composition of Richard Whiting) with an expanded solo of Kunihiko Sugano, and the representative song of the Thelonious Monk's genius, the jazz standard "Round about Midnight".

Isao Suzuki Quartet + 2 - 1975 - Orang-Utan

Isao Suzuki Quartet + 2

01. Blue Road 11:21
02. Where Are You Going ? 7:28
03. My One And Only Love 6:50
04. Orang-Utan 15:04

Alto Saxophone, Flute, Bass Clarinet: Mori Jenji
Bass: Osamu Kawakami
Bass, Cello, Electric Piano: Isao Suzuki
Drums: Shinji Mori
Guitar: Kazumi Watanabe
Piano, Organ: Kunihiko Sugano
Vocals: Mari Nakamoto

Recorded on April 4, 1975 in Tokyo.

Despite being a well-regarded and sought-after slice of Japanese jazz-funk and contemporary jazz perfection, Orang-Utan has never previously been released outside of Japan. Given that original copies of the album regularly fetch three-figure sums online, this global reissue is arguably well overdue. Recorded by Japanese scene stalwarts Isao Suzuki Quartet (with the addition of two guest musicians) in April 1975, the set is topped and tailed by two long, up-tempo workouts, of which fizzing, funk-fuelled opener "Blue Road" stands out (though hardcore jazz-heads may prefer the title track). In between, you'll find two relaxed, laidback affairs where Japanese jazz-rock legend Kazume Watanabe's languid solos come to the fore.

Bassist Isao Suzuki's popularity shot up to stratosphere with the release of Blow Up from the Three Blind Mice label. By the time he recorded this, fourth album for the label, he was actually the winner of the Swing Journal Readers' Poll. And this rather strangely titled album doesn't disappoint.
Suzuki had a knack for surrounding himself with superb musicians and playing brilliant, groovy music that is firmly rooted in the jazz tradition. This time, he picked as the all-important horn player Kenji Mori whose superb playing on alto sax, bass clarinet and flute strongly remind us of Eric Dolphy. The guitar genius Kazumi Watanabe turns in wonderfully nuanced performances in every setting. Also, not insignificantly, Mari Nakamoto--one of the best female jazz vocalists Japan has ever produced--appears as a guest and sings Shirley Horn's "Where Are You Going?" with excellent results.

Mari Nakamoto With Isao Suzuki & Kazumi Watanabe - 1975 - Mari Nakamoto III

Mari Nakamoto With Isao Suzuki & Kazumi Watanabe
Mari Nakamoto III

01. Georgia On My Mind 5:10
02. What A Difference A Day Made 3:40
03. You Came A Long Way From St. Louis 4:46
04. I Only Have Eyes For You 4:43
05. Sunflower 3:53
06. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life 2:59
07. Just Friends 3:43
08. Didn't We 4:02
09. A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square 4:20

Recorded at Epicurus Studio, Tokyo on November 25 & 26, 1975.

Vocals – Mari Nakamoto
Guitar – Kazumi Watanabe
Bass – Isao Suzuki

For her third album for the Three Blind Mice label, Japanese vocalist Mari Nakamoto chose to record with just two musicians: Isao Suzuki on bass and Kazumi Watanabe on guitar. By then, Nakamoto had established herself as the top female jazz singer in her country, with her soulful, smokey voice, authentic blues feeling and impeccable diction-

With a bare minimum backing and no place to hide, Nakamoto bares her soul in this intimate setting. She has a very good command of her unforgettable voice, and delivers the emotional content of each song with intensity while being relaxed at the same time. Her confidence must have been enhanced by the masterful accompaniment by Suzuki and Watanabe, both of whom are simply superb musicians. A fantastic female vocal album chrished by both jazz fans and audiophiles!