Tuesday 7 November 2023

Opening with nearly 12 minutes of Takeo Moriyama's 'Exchange', this 16 track compilation goes in a typical Tony Higgins / Mike Peden, let's dig even deeper into the J-Jazz and just focus on the period 1968-1981 at the offices of Nippon Columbia.  

That opening track, taken from the vinyl only release, Live At Lovely' - see review HERE) is a great example of what was clearly an exceptional time for jazz in the far east.  And not just because Herbie Hancock took time out from his own Columbia sessions to join Takashi Mizuhashi and Friends for 'Samba de Negrito' (at a time of one of many Herbie musical peaks ('77) on a track composed by Hideo Ichikawa - remember him from Isao Suzuki, Masahiko Togashi, Hideo Ichikawa, Akira Shiomoto – Approach (see review HERE).

That apart from really keen students of the J-Jazz class, most of these musicians will be new to you and that's what this (and the previous 3 volumes of this series) is about as this huge volume of Jazz history went largely unnoticed apart from some jazz dance nerds as labels who wanted to push the commercial side of jazz-funk in the 70s/80s. 

Thankfully, Nippon Columbia had some execs who realised that hey had on their hands some of the best jazz, jazz-funk, jazz-fusion, modal jazz as you are likely to find with all instruments covered; but particularly drums, bass, horns, electric piano (some synth) and more; the only thing missed in this two and half hours is a full on batucada!  That said, apart from post-bop Blakey, the biggest inspirations here seem to be Hancock and Corea at their fusion best but even then you can here touches of axe gods Zappa (who had George Duke and Jean Luc-Ponty in his band at some points) and Carlos Santana (to bring in that Latin influence).

"Definitive" is a much over-used word to describe such a compilation and you can bet that even though the J-Jazz 'definitive' book will be available to order soon [see HERE] and somebody is thinking about a Vol. 5; this is the triple album vinyl that you need as it is the definitive collection of 'Deep Modern Jazz from Japan - Nippon Columbia 1968 -1981'!

Artist: Varous Artists

Title: J-Jazz Vol. 4: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan - Nippon Columbia 1968 -1981

Release date: 3rd November, 2023

Label : BBE Music

Catalog Number : BBE 3xLP vinyl / 2xCD / Exclusive Digital (bbemusic.com) & Bandcamp .


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