Two Japanese jazz greats pianist Masabumi Kikuchi and percussionist Masahiko Togashi recorded “Concerto” in 1991 – quite prolific period for both (especially for Kikuchi who founded one of his most successful project Tethered Moon with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian right at that time). Released soon after, this duo album hasn't been noticed and became an obscurity. Many Kikuchi fans even don't know such release exists. In 2016 it has been re-issued in Japan so it is much more accessible now. Being mostly known as an object of discussions between collectors (as rule no-one of them ever heard its content) – is this album really all that good?
A brilliant set from Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi – two long, leaping, loping tracks that almost feel like some of McCoy Tyner's best work! Kikuchi plays acoustic piano, and the group's a quartet with Terumasu Hino on trumpet, Koshuke Mine on tenor, Eric Gravatt on drums, and Juni Booth playing some really wonderful bass. Booth's bass leads the tracks with a soulful quality that you don't always hear on Kikuchi's other work – really giving the record a strongly-rooted vibe, while the musicians are still free to really open up and explore. The album's tracks, "East Wind" and "Green Dance", are both excellent examples of the soulful freedoms allowed in the Japanese scene of the 70s – side-long numbers that are different both from contemporary performances on both the US and European scenes of the period.
Reissue with the latest DSD remastering. Comes with liner notes. A gem of a record from Japanese keyboardist Masabumi Kikuchi – one of those massive Japanese fusion classics that was partly recorded overseas, partly here in the US – with a sound that brings together all the best soulful aspects of both scenes! Kikuchi can create some really weird, wonderful sounds when he wants – but can also slide into a groove with the best of them – and, given the vintage of the record, may well be more inventive than Herbie Hancock ever was at this point in his career! The lineup's filled with great talents – trumpeter Terumasa Hino, reedman Steve Grossman, and guitarist James Mason – coming together wonderfully on titles that include "Sky Talk", "Madjap Express", "Alacalder", and "Sum Dum Fun".
Reissue with the latest DSD remastering. Comes with liner notes. A great album of funky Japanese fusion – one of the few sets from the Japanese scene of the late 70s that got any sort of wider release in the US – and a treasure that we've loved for years! The set's got a really great sound – soulful and funky, but sharp too – in a lineup that features a variety of keyboards from Masabumi Kikuchi, plus work by Terumasa Hino on trumpet, Steve Grossman and Dave Liebman on saxes, and James Mason on guitar! The best cuts have a funky feel that's in the CTI/Kudu mode – perhaps mixed with a bit of Herbie Hancock keyboard jamming – and the album's a surprisingly lost funky gem in the Columbia catalog of the early 80s, with a much harder edge than some of the other work on the label at the time!
Reissue with the latest DSD remastering. An aggressive bit of funky fusion – a set that matches the talents of Japanese trumpeter Shunzoh Ohno with some hip American grooves from Reggie Lucas on guitar, Cedric Lawson on keyboards, Don Pate on bass, and Roy Haynes on drums! The sound is very full-on – in a mid 70s Miles Davis electric mode, but with perhaps a bit more of a funk touch on the best cuts – almost a refinement of the groove that Miles hit in Japan, fusing the energy into some great tunes that really pack a sharp punch! Haynes' drums are surprisingly heavy at points – and titles include "You Dig That?", "But It's Not So", and "I Remember That It Happened".
Reissue with the latest remastering. Pianist Masabumi Kikuchi leads the set, but the group's a very equally-balanced trio that features wonderful work from James Genus on bass and Victor Jones on drums – both players who shape the sound every bit as strongly as the piano! In fact, if you were to hear the record without the cover, you might even think Genus is the leader at times – given the way his rich, deep lines begin some of the cuts – and give a grounding to the record that allows Kikuchi to create these little constellations in sound with his deft lines on the piano – archly modern, yet deeply soulful at the same time – and almost "sparked" into greater flames by Jones' drums. A really special sort of trio date – one that's way more than just the sum of its parts – on titles that include "Free Stroll", "Zig Zag", "Pain Killer", "Up Beat Blues", "20th Street Shuffle", and "Little Treat".
A document of a 2012 Japanese solo recital – not only the last in his homeland but the last anywhere – by idiosyncratic improviser Masabumi Kikuchi (1939-2015). One of the uncategorisable greats, Kikuchi occupied his own musical universe and in his final years was quietly and systematically severing his ties to jazz, drifting instead towards what he called ‘floating sound and harmonies’, introspective and poetic improvisations. Song forms still sometimes materialized. Kikuchi revisits “Little Abi”, a ballad for his daughter, which the pianist once recorded with Elvin Jones. And there is a surprising and very touching version of the wistfully yearning theme from the 1959 Brazilian film Black Orpheus.
Reissue with the latest remastering. A stunning follow-up to the first Tethered Moon album from the trio of Masabumu Kikuchi on piano, Gary Peacock on bass, and Paul Motian on drums – material recorded at the same time as the first record, but with a vibe that's sometimes slightly different! As before, the acoustic tones of Kikuchi ring out strongly – with those sharper, modern edges that he first brought to play on his key albums of the 70s – but there's also almost a looser quality to some tracks, as Peacock's bass works as a strongly subtle force, as does Motian's drums – both with those special sound-shaping qualities that have made them such unique musicians. Titles include a take on Ornette Coleman's "Turnaround", plus "Little Abi", "Gaia", "True You", and "Conception Vessel".