Monday, February 24, 2020

Masaomi Kondo & The Freedom Unity - 1971 - Hitoribochi no Heya

Masaomi Kondo & The Freedom Unity 
1971
Hitoribochi no Heya


01. ツタ (Ivy)
02. オリーブ (Olive)
03. キャベツ (Cabbage)
04. サボテン (Cactus)
05. マンドラゴラ (Mandragora)
06. バイバブ (Baobab)

Masaomi Kondo - vocals
Masahiko Satoh - piano, electric piano, arrangements
Takeru Muraoka - sax
Hiroshi Suzuki- trombone
Kiyoshi Sugimoto - guitar
Masaoki Terakawa - electric bass
Akira Ishikawa - drums
Michio Yamagami - lyrics


Kondo Masaomi is a well know Japanese actor who made this one-off LP in 1971. He raps away on 6 tracks about various plant species such as the Mandragora, breathing out an endangered atmosphere that borders at times on sheer anarchy and agitation. He ain’t no singer, by far but recites his texts in an distraught, frenzied, well-controlled and even calm fashion, gliding on the funky psychedelic groovy airwaves that his backing band – the Freedom Unity – churns out in an addictive fashion. The Freedom Unity on this occasion consisted out some of the finest musicians to be on the scene and included heavyweight players such as Sato Masahiko (piano); Ishikawa Akira (drums – Uganda etc); Sugimoto Kiyoshi (guitar – Count Buffaloos, Hino Hideshi Group, Rock Communication, etc), Terakawa Masaoki (bass – Love Live Life + 1, Ishikawa Akira & Count Buffaloos, Dema), Muraoka Takeru (Sax – Uganda, Count Buffaloos, Love Live Life +1, Dema) and Suzuki Hiroshi (Trumpet – various line-ups of Freedom Unity). The music they bring forth ranges from jazz, free jazz, psychedelic groovy acidic jams, jazz rock and fuses neatly with Kondo Masaomi’s raps, making it a perfect unison that resembles at times the musical greatness of Innocent Canon. It is funky, jazzy, psychedelic, groovy and intoxicatingly hip shaking all at the same time. A true amalgamation and genre-crossing disc, hybrid like for some reason only Japanese records seem to pull off without loosing face. This sole recording by Kondo is largely unknown outside this island here but it is regarded and revered as a great cult item and upon spinning this disc it is easy to understand why. It just has all the right ingredients: funky bass lines, killer guitar exploits, butt-shaking jazzy vibes, rare groove spiritual like rhythms, shrinking sax insertions, fuzzy wah-wah action, crazy raps etc, all executed by top level musicians. Magical slide out of 1971, shedding another light on Japans acidic free psychedelic moves and shakes.

Killer Japanese funky psychedelic masterpiece that sounds like Innocent Canon. Kondo Masaomi is a well know Japanese actor who made this one-off LP in 1971. He raps away on 6 tracks about various plant species such as the Mandragora, breathing out an endangered atmosphere that borders at times on sheer anarchy and agitation. He ain’t no singer, by far but recites his texts in an distraught, frenzied, well-controlled and even calm fashion, gliding on the funky psychedelic groovy airwaves that his backing band – the Freedom Unity – churns out in an addictive fashion. The Freedom Unity on this occasion consisted out some of the finest musicians to be on the scene and included heavyweight players such as Sato Masahiko (piano); Ishikawa Akira (drums – Uganda etc); Sugimoto Kiyoshi (guitar – Count Buffaloos, Hino Hideshi Group, Rock Communication, etc), Terakawa Masaoki (bass – Love Live Life + 1, Ishikawa Akira & Count Buffaloos, Dema), Muraoka Takeru (Sax - Uganda, Count Buffaloos, Love Live Life +1, Dema) and Suzuki Hiroshi (Trumpet – various line-ups of Freedom Unity). The music they bring forth ranges from jazz, free jazz, psychedelic groovy acidic jams, jazz rock and fuses neatly with Kondo Masaomi’s raps, making it a perfect unison that resembles at times the musical greatness of Innocent Canon. It is funky, jazzy, psychedelic, groovy and intoxicatingly hip shaking all at the same time. A true amalgamation and genre-crossing disc, hybrid like for some reason only Japanese records seem to pull off without loosing face. This sole recording by Kondo is largely unknown outside this island here but it is regarded and revered as a great cult item and upon spinning this disc it is easy to understand why. It just has all the right ingredients: funky bass lines, killer guitar exploits, butt-shaking jazzy vibes, rare groove spiritual like rhythms, shrinking sax insertions, fuzzy wah-wah action, crazy raps etc, all executed by top level musicians. Magical slide out of 1971, shedding another light on Japans acidic free psychedelic moves and shakes. Largely undetected but bound to be a huge crowd pleaser once this discs intoxicating fumes reach foreign shores. Highest recommendation.

Sammy & Freedom Unity - 1971 - Salute To Soul

Sammy & Freedom Unity 
1971
Salute To Soul


01. The House Of The Rising Sun 5:32
02. Summertime 4:08
03. What Am I Living For 3:19
04. Trouble Blues 3:22
05. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know 5:45
06. St. James Infirmary 3:42
07. Nobody's Fault But Mine 2:43
08. Willow Weep For Me 4:07
09. See See Rider 3:58
10. I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl 2:25
11. Hey Jude 4:38

Hiromasa Suzuki: Keyboards
Kunimitsu Inaba: Bass
Takeru Muraoka: Sax
Akira Ishikawa: Drums
Hiroshi Suzuki: Trombone
Sammy: Vocals


"Salute To Soul" is a duet album by the jazz quintet "Freedom Unity" introducing Sammy featuring Hiromasa Suzuki (keys), Kunimitsu Inaba (b), Takeru Muraoka (sax), Akira Ishikawa (ds) & Hiroshi Suzuki (tb). Sammy is the pseudonym of Masami Chino, a versatile soul-rock songstress, the japanese counterpart of Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin. Mostly actives during the seventies, Sammy recorded another album with the group, "Dynamic Rock" feat. the Singers Three, collaborated with saxophonist Jiro Inagaki & his Soul Media on two albums ("Wandering Birds", "Woman Robinson Crusoe-Rock Steady") and with the Akira Ishikawa's Count Buffalos on "Soul & Soul". From Jazz to Soul passing by psychedelic rock, Sammy revisits the classics of british and american rock (Nobody's Fault But Mine, See See Rider) including jazz standards (St. James Infirmary, Willow Weep For Me, Summertime). All songs arranged by Hiromasa Suzuki.

The Freedom Unity / Sammy /Singers Three - 1971 - Dynamic Rock

The Freedom Unity / Sammy /Singers Three
1971 
Dynamic Rock


01. Proud Mary
02. 25 Or 6 To 4
03. Someday
04. Smiling Phases
05. Free
06. Hi-De-Ho
07. Lucrecia Macevil
08. Fire And Rain

Baritone Saxophone – Shunzo Sunahara
Bass Trombone – Takeshi Aoki
Chorus – Singers Three
Drums – Akira Ishikawa
Electric Bass – Masaoki Terakawa
Electric Guitar – Kimio Mizutani
Lead Vocals – Sammy
Organ – Hiro Yanagida
Percussion – Masami Kawahara
Piano, Electric Piano – Hiromasa Suzuki
Tenor Saxophone – Kosuke Ichihara
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Takeru Muraoka
Trombone – Teruhiko Kataoka
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Koji Hatori


Sammy is the pseudonym of Masami Chino, prolific japanese female rock singer from Soul to Psychedelic rock who was active in the seventies. She sings it well known Jazz, Pop, Rock, Soul, Rhythm & Blues from british and american covers song and jazz standards (her voice tone can be situated between Janis Joplin and Grace Slick). Introduced in the japanese jazz rock scene, she started to work with the legendary Freedom Unity (a jazz quartet formed by Hiromasa Suzuki and Akira Ishikawa) and collaborated with Jiro Inagaki on several albums as Wandering Birds (1971). Later, she also worked with Akira Ishikawa’ Count Buffalo band for Soul & Soul (1972). It’s the second collaboration with The Freedom Unity, after Dynamic Rock (1971), the group is surrounded by a string section plus additional guitarist (Kimio Mizutani) and arranged by Hiromasa Suzuki.

Yet another album of psychedelic-infused cover tunes, that was all the rage in Japan in the early 70s. I found the Chicago covers '25 or 6 to 4’ and 'Free’ to be the highlights here, with tight horn charts and Kimio Mizutani (on what appears to be his 2,000th recording in 1971) doing his best rendition of Terry Kath. On the other hand, the opening track is Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 'Proud Mary’. Oh you haven’t lived until you’ve heard 'Lor-rin…. Lor-rin…. Lorrin on a Liver’.
Overall the album is fun - perhaps fun-ny at times - and worth at least one listen

The Freedom Unity - 1971 - Down by the Naked City

The Freedom Unity 
1971
Down by the Naked City


01. Down By The Naked City (28:37)
The Doors Of Perception
The Dancing Protoplasm
02. The Equator 8:40
03. The Old Castle 8:18
04. Light Up 7:35

Akira Ishikawa (drums)
Hiromasa Suzuki (electric piano)
Hiroshi Suzuki (trombone)
Kunimitsu Inaba (double bass)
Takeru Muraoka (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone)



Iconic avant-garde masterpiece from the legendary jazz supergroup featuring keyboardist Hiromasa "Colgen" Suzuki, saxophonist Takeru Muraoka, bassist Kunimitsu Inaba, trombonist Hiroshi Suzuki and drummer Akira Ishikawa. The group was formed by all-stars japanese jazz musicians, members of Terumasa Hino Quintet, Count Buffalos & The Soul Media, starting with "Something" in 1970 (highlighting saxophonist Takeru Muraoka), recorded "Salute To Soul" & "Dynamic Rock" featuring japanese rock songstress Masami Chino (Sammy) in 1971, and Hiroshi Suzuki's album "Cat" released in 1975. The album opens on the title-track, an extended modal suite over 23 minutes played in two parts ("The Doors Of Perception" & "The Dancing Protoplasm"), composed by Hiroshi Suzuki, follow by "The Equator", "The Old Castle" & the Muraoka's original composition, "Light Up". All tracks arranged by Hiromasa Suzuki.

Today, we're beginning with an excellent jazz fusion record from Japan. The Freedom Unity was strung together by Hiromasa Suzuki in the early 70s, and he turned this troupe of Japanese jazz musicians into a flat-out revolutionary supergroup - this is seriously fantastic stuff.
It's some of the earliest fusion to ever surface out of Japan, dating to 1971, and counts for the group's second full-length. Where Hiromasa shines on the electric piano, Kunimitsu Inaba matches with some impeccable basslines that charge the pacing to its full capacity. Drummer Akira Ishikawa pins down the energetic stream with a firm-yet-precise grip, and the horns provide the gleam of light streaming from some of the most energetic jazz I've heard. The first track in particular is an endless astronomic navigation that's both clean and executed. Though it lasts for the length of the A-side, one can't help but thirst for more. Neither quality nor intensity diminish on Side B, leaving me with one question as the album wraps up - where do I find their first album, Something?
In any case, it's splendid early fusion that treads the space of the more avant-garde stuff with an understandable injection of electric Miles Davis influence. This is definitely the kind of fusion that can appeal to both the jazz novice and the jazz connoisseur, and I warmly recommend its entrance into your ears.

Echoes of early Weather Report and Miles from '69 can be heard on the first 20+ minute piece. It starts off really well, but gradually ascends into a more self-indulgent mode of overly long dissonant noodling that's hardly an eye-opening moment. Some of the standards such as the "The Old Castle" appeal to me a bit more and therefore somewhat salvage the album. The "avant-gardisms" of the first track were executed more coherently on Weather Report's albums.

The Freedom Unity Featuring Takeru Muraoka - 1971 - Something / Freedom Unity First

The Freedom Unity Featuring Takeru Muraoka 
1971
Something / Freedom Unity First


01. Capricorn 10:58
02. Something 5:38
03. On A Sunny Day 9:44
04. Some Other Night 9:33
05. Blue Soul 4:55
06. Peaceful Planet 11:41

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

Recorded at Toshiba 1st Studio, 18, 26 October '70.


A great bit of fusion from the start of the 70s – kind of a bridge between the late 60s "groovy" Japanese jazz, and some of the freer-thinking work to come! The group features excellent tenor from Takeru Muraoka, who plays with kind of a sharp edge that almost echoes more of the alto and soprano work of the generation – mixed with keyboards from Hiromasa Suzuki – who's plenty great on electric piano! Hiroshi Suzuki plays trombone, and the set's got some nice funky drums from Akira Ishikawa – who's always a treat. Overall, the set often has some of the same funky characteristics as some of the best late 60s electric jazz sets on Liberty Records in the US