A record with a very bleak sort of cover image, but a wonderfully warm sound within – strongly resonant quartet work that features great vibes from Kinta Hamada, plus TakeshiInomata on drums, Kinta Hamada on vibes, Naoki Nishi on piano, and Kenichi Uchiyama on bass! With a lineup like that, you might expect a bit of a Modern Jazz Quartet approach – but these guys have moved way past that, and are instead in the warmer, more expressive territory opened up by the Japanese piano scene of the 70s – working in a well-recorded format that sparkles with plenty of warmth and relaxed imagination. Most tracks are nice and long, and titles include "CTA", "Adjustment", "The Midnight Sun Will Never Set", "That Old Black Magic", and "Angel Eyes". CD
One of those records that you might pass by in the racks, as the cover image almost seems more like a metal set than a jazz one – yet a date that really opens up with all the best charms of the Japanese jazz scene at the time – mixing the vibes of Kinta Hamada, piano of Naoki Nishi, bass of Kenichi Uchiyama, and drums of the great TakeshiInomata on drums – all in a setting that's wonderfully understated, gently swinging, and with a lot of warmth throughout! Titles include nice takes on "Bluesette", "Blue Rondo A La Turk", and "The Summer Knows" – plus "Des Sasser" and "It Don't Mean A Thing". CD
A rare Japanese session from vocalist Helen Merrill – one of a few key 60s recordings she cut on the Tokyo scene, after initial fame in the US! The album features a great small group arranged by drummer TakeshiInomata, played by a combo that includes alto, baritone, and trumpet – all used in a cool and laidback mode that resonates nicely with Merrill's more familiar 50s sides on Mercury – but which also stretches out more, too – not as "cool", and with a sense of inflection that's mighty nice. Helen's in great form vocally – often singing in that almost-effortless mode that we love in her classic work – and titles include "It Never Entered My Mind", "Bewitched", "You Do Something To Me", "Teach Me Tonight", "Good Morning Heartache", and "My Favorite Things". CD
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