Friday 10 March 2023

After the mighty Digger's Dozen compilation by DJ Muro, BBE return to the apparently never ending treasure trove of the Tony Higgins / Mike Pedon finds for re-issue on the highly-acclaimed J-Jazz Masterclass Series.

This time we've gone all the way back to 1986 for the album called 'Approach'.  Mostly as a trio, as indicated by the cover artwork, Hideo Ichikawa (piano), Isao Suzuki (b) and Masahiko Togashi (percussion/drums) are joined on two tracks by Akira Shiomoto on guitar. 

Such a shame Suzuki passed away last year aged 89 so as not to see the re-issue  but can he feel the vibrations of his bass wherever he may be?  This guy spent many years in the U.S. playing with the likes of Ron Carter, Paul Desmond, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, and many more.

You can hear such influences in the Bob James like 'Otari' which Suzuki dominates with Ichikawa in an 80s 'SOAP' theme style.  This is in total contrast to their 'free' jazz of 'Tornado' as a duo of Ichikawa and Togashi.

At the other extreme, before Afro-minimal jazz house was thought off, the 11 minutes of 'East Words' is not long enough and frustratingly gets a faded out at the end.  'Long Straight Road' is similar but with Ichikawa and Suzuki duelling ontop of Togashi; again another track faded out short.

The opener 'Make Trip' is more 'traditonal' J-Jazz jazzdance with Akira doing his "Larry Coryell"  after a gentle introduction so it doesn't really prepare you for the variety of the album; 'Mysterious' is just that, the bass is bowed and sounds like there's an A. Christie/P.G. Wodehouse 30s dectective going on with Akira on gentle bossa groove duty - odd and mesmerising at the same time. 

For those that follow Mike 'bacoso' Pedon, you'll know that he recently appeared at the launch of 'Come Sunday' at the Café Artum, Hockley, Birmingham with a vinyl only jazz session (I hope he played 'East Words') so it's really good that this music is reaching ears outside of the usual 'jazzdance' enclaves. 

For an album with only 6 tracks, this sure packs a punch and you'll find that your favourite track changes on every listen; it's just fantastic and so hard to believe it was recorded in 1986 as its timeless.

Artist: Isao Suzuki, Masahiko Togashi, Hideo Ichikawa, Akira Shiomoto

Title: Approach

Release date: 10th March, 2023

Label : BBE Music

Catalog Number : BBE710 LP / CD / Digital / Bandcamp


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