I always have my tentacles out to try and find something that’s new to me, and interesting. In addition to the Strange Days magazine that I get from Japan by subscription, I sometimes pick up a Japanese magazine at the Kinokuniya bookstore called “Record Collectors Magazine” – I can’t read it, of course, but I can look at the pictures and ‘read’ the advertisements and reviews.
Nippon Columbia Records, who are 100 years old this year, have been issuing some very cool looking “Jazz Series” CD’s over the last year or two – that’s right, Japanese Modern Jazz!
MODERN JAZZ PLAYBOYS – MODERN JAZZ SHOW CASE, COCB-53831, 1961 12 TRKS 4 x bonus tracks
INOMATA, TAKESHI / WEST LINERS – LINER NOTE, COCB-53832, 1967 12 TRKS
HARA, NOBUO / HOZAN YAMAMOTO – NEW JAZZ IN JAPAN, COCB-53833, 1968 10 TRKS
MISAGO, T. / TOKYO CUBAN BOYS – FIESTA EN JAPON, COCB-53834, 1966 5 TRKS
HARADA, TADAYUKI – PLAYBOY’S THEME, COCB-53835, 1968 10 TRKS
AKIYOSHI, TOSHIKO / JAPAN JAZZ ALL STARS –TOSHIKO & MODERN JAZZ, COCB-53621, 1964 7 TRKS
MODERN JAZZ PLAYBOYS – MODERN JAZZ SCREEN MOOD, COCB-53622, 1960 12 TRKS mono
YAGI, MASAO & HIS GROUP – MODERN JAZZ BLUE MOOD, COCB-53623, 1965 12 TRKS
SOUL MEDIA – FUNKY STUFF, COCB-53624, 1974 8 TRKS
ITABASHI, FUMIO – NATURE, COCB-53625, 1979 5 TRKS
So, with two sets of re-issues in this series, the time frame is 1960 to 1979. The cost of each CD is roughly $23.50 (2,000 yen at roughly ‘current’ 2010 exchange rate) – and I don’t believe I would ever have seen any of these for sale in the US. Jazz time now!
Toshiko Akiyoshi is probably the most famous name here, to US jazz fans. There is actually a Toshiko Akiyoshi section in the jazz department at Amoeba in Hollywood! The only artist represented with two titles is the Modern Jazz Playboys (who have great album covers). In my LP collection, I have some titles from Nobuo Hara. If I read the designations correctly, only 1 or 2 of these titles has been on CD previously, most are making their CD debuts.
Soul Media “Funky Stuff” was a real surprise. Very decent 1974 clavinet jazz mixed with ‘funky’ rhythm section – and a great Kool & The Gang cover version (“Funky Stuff”). Speaking of cover versions, the Tadayuki Harada CD has a ton of great ‘easy hits’: “Theme from The Monkees”, “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, “Going Out of My Head” etc.
So, all of this stuff was well worth my hard earned dosh. I now have a basic idea of Japanese 60’s & 70’s jazz on the Nippon Columbia label – some very groovy stuff! The most “Japanese” of these titles is definitely the Nobuo Hara with Hozan Yamamoto title, jazz mixed with Japanese flute!
So, I keep listening and learning. I have lots of stuff, but there’s always more to learn. Anybody want to hear a sampler of this series? Drop me an email. I’ll fix you up with a sampler.