Impact ... CD Paddle Wheel/Ultra Vybe (Japan), 1984. New Copy ...
Pianist FumioItabashi's definitely making an impact with this record – pushing his music even farther than before with some inventive, creative arrangements that make strong use of trumpet, trombone, and tenor sax! Itabashi's piano is at the core of the record, but he's moving in ways that are quite different than previous albums – almost avant at points, yet never too far out – just angular and exploratory, in ways that really seem to bring out some bold voicings in the horns! Players are all in Japanese, so we can't tell you their names – and although the cut "Little Mayu" is a bit straight, it's more than made up for by the cuts "Tokyo Blues", "F1", "Last Summer", and "All The Things You Are". CD
A really unusual performance from Japanese pianist FumioItabashi – who returns here to Watarase, a site that inspired his most famous album in the 70s! Itabashi plays here outdoors – a really amazing setting for a grand piano – yet his work on the instrument is ever bit as bold and powerful as when it's captured in the closeness of the studio – although maybe taking off with even more inspiration from nature, which is always something that Fumio brings to his unique combination of lyrical lines and magical flow! The performance runs for approximately 63 minutes, and all other notes are in Japanese, or else we'd tell you more. DVD
(Part of the "Nippon Jazz Spirits 48" series! DVD is NTSC – All Region.)
A nicely biting session from Japanese pianist FumioItabashi – a set that rounds out his trio with guest alto sax and guitar on a few of the cuts, which makes for a fuller, more driven sound overall! There's definitely a soulful groove to the set – kind of an 80s soulbop mode overall – and Itabashi's piano is recorded with a bright tone that sets the record apart from American efforts of the time, a slightly different feel than his 70s material at points, although some of the best numbers still have those comping lines we love so much in his music. Titles include "Don't Say Goodbye", "I'm Gone", "Mina", "Alicante", "Red Apple", and "Beatrice". CD
A soaring live set from FumioItabashi – one of our favorite Japanese pianists of the 70s, and a tremendous player with a strong McCoy Tyner-like sound! The session features Fumio stretching out on 3 long tracks in trio mode – only bass and drums to back him up, and plenty of space to take off on long-spiraling lines on the keys! There's a pulsating groove to the first track in the set – the 20 minute long "Jumping Board", which dips, turns, and flies with the right kind of energy you'd expect from the title. That's followed by a mellower reading of "My Funny Valentine" – but one that's still quite long, and really builds nicely through the set. And last up is another Itabashi original – "Rise & Shine" – presented here in the full 17 minute version, which layers sound upon sound as the tune builds on – really cascading beautifully along! CD
A really wonderful live set from Japanese piano legend FumioItabashi – a player who exploded in the 70s with a style that was free-flowing yet very rhythmic – one of the best illustrations of the new lyrical heights of the Japanese piano scene – still sounding pretty darn wonderful here after the passage of decades! Fumio immediately takes off on the tunes – building up a sound in a mode that's maybe a bit inspired by the directions that McCoy Tyner opened up on the piano, but which also has more soul jazz currents at times too – blended together in this effortless sense of rhythm and melody that make Itabashi's command of the piano completely breathtaking, and very different than just about any other solo artist on the instrument that we can think of. The CD features six long tracks – all with titles in Japanese. CD
(Part of the "Nippon Jazz Spirits 48" series!)
Watarase ... LP Denon/Mule Musiq (Germany), 1981. New Copy (reissue)...
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A really striking solo piano session by the richly talented FumioItabashi – a pianist with a fluid, open feel on the keys – one that charges a session like this with the same sort of energy you'd expect from a trio album! In a way, Fumio's style would almost be held back by bass and drums – as he plays with a strongly rhythmic approach – one that colors in the spaces of the album in a way that reminds us a bit of the work of Dollar Brand, but which also has a more freely lyrical approach that reminds us of some of our favorite French players over the years. Titles include the originals "Miss Cann", "Good Bye", "Tone", and "Watarase". LP, Vinyl record album
The cover might look a bit basic, but the collection is fantastic – a really strong overview of the hipper corners of Japanese jazz in the 70s, particularly as the decade moved in – pulled together from a range of different indie label releases that show just how compelling the farther reaches of the scene were starting to sound! None of this work is too avant or experimental – most tunes are soulful and swinging – yet the music does have a completely different vibe than the decade before, when Japanese jazz modes were maybe tied more strongly to American inspiration – before really being set free in the 70s to explore new rhythms and bold, bright lyrical expressions. The set's heavy on piano tunes from some of the greats, but feels nothing like standard piano jazz – and titles include "A Blind Man" by Shintaro Nakamura Quintet, "Aya's Samba" by Eiji Nakamura, "Early Summer" by Ryo Fukui, "My Favorite Things" by Teru Sakamoto Trio, "First Flight" by Mitsuaki Katayama, "Under Construction" by Koichi Matsukaze", "Nowin" by Masaru Imada, "What's Going On" by Takehiro Honda, and "Watarase" by FumioItabashi. CD
A really special slice of Japanese jazz from the 70s – tracks from the sorts of records that make that scene so different than any others we can think of – especially in the way the musicians evolved familiar styles into personal grooves of their own! Instrumentation varies with each track, and often includes a fusing of acoustic elements with a few slight electric touches – almost never in familiar fusion ways, but instead with this organic energy that's really wonderful – and which gives almost all of these tunes a really special sort of glow! The quality of the music is a bit hard to sum up in words, but the package provides a perfect introduction to the range of great Japanese jazz albums issued by Columbia in the 70s – with titles that include "Shrimp Dance" by Hiroshi Suzuki, "On The Horizon" by Kazumi Watanabe, "Love More Train" by Terumasa Hino, "Breeze" by Hiromasa Suzuki, "Up Into The Sky" by FumioItabashi, "Babylonia Wind" by Kiyoshi Sugimoto, and "For My Little Bird" by Shigeru Mukai. CD