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Occasionally, a listening session turns into one factor further. You lose your self for a few minutes, or for a complete report aspect. You work together with the music. You float and drift amongst the notes and units. Time stops. Transcendent. That’s what it’s all about. A larger prime quality audio system takes this to a unique diploma, and my first experience in a jazz kissa in Japan modified the whole thing for me.

The transcendent experience doesn’t happen regularly, nevertheless occurred quite a lot of evenings up to now listening to Billy Taylor and his trio on the 1959 launch, One for Pleasant. With Earl May on bass and Kenny Dennis on drums driving the rhythm on an excellent and soulful outing. Wonderful. It made me start to contemplate the piano trio sub-genre of jazz, and what made me fall in love with that combination. 

Billy Taylor’s One for Pleasant on the turntable. Twin 701, NAD 3020, Dynaco ST-70 and Klipsch KLF30.

Early in my jazz listening, I was drawn to the pyrotechnics of the trumpet and sax. Don’t get me improper, I nonetheless love these units and groupings that embody one or every, nevertheless there’s one factor in regards to the trio. In all probability probably the most elemental, and intimate grouping. Merely piano, bass and drums. Piano generally throughout the lead, nevertheless a way more democratic grouping than when the limelight-stealing brass are involved. Bass and drums with further to say throughout the musical dialogue, and better soloing options for these oft neglected units.

Lee Morgan can take the night off. 

There are so many good pianists for listeners to find; some well-known, and some flying beneath the radar. A list of a very powerful artists must embody: Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Pink Garland, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, all well-known for his or her work with Miles Davis, and for his or her very personal trio work. McCoy Tyner of John Coltrane’s well-known quartet and Horace Silver of the Jazz Messengers, every leaders and creators of among the many most memorable music from the interval. Sonny Clark, Thelonious Monk and Oscar Peterson; all acknowledged for his or her supporting roles on just a few of jazz’s greatest albums, and for his or her very personal initiatives as leaders. 

And who can overlook Dave Brubeck, Ahmad Jamal or Duke Ellington. Bud Powell more than likely belongs on this guidelines as successfully. The Philadelphia-native recorded some beautiful albums over the course of his career with Charlie Parker and others; Jazz Huge is a ought to hear once you’ve not at all heard it and want a crucial type of his participating in and compositional skills. A extremely underrated jazz pianist that you must uncover. 

Oscar Peterson's The Art of The Trio with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen, spinning on the Dual 701.
Oscar Peterson’s The Paintings of The Trio with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen, spinning on the Twin 701.

Now once you’re not an unlimited reader, and likewise you haven’t explored most of these artists however, you’ll have the ability to stop correct now. Actuality be suggested, you possibly can probably assemble a substantial jazz assortment on merely Bill Evans’ and Oscar Peterson’s work as band leaders and sidemen. Nevertheless dig and uncover barely deeper and wider; you’ll uncover that there are fairly just a few totally different underappreciated jazz pianists to be found. That’s the place I’ve been participating in of late, and I’ve been loving among the many comparatively unknown nevertheless stellar pianists and recordings that I’ve dug up.

Two very distinct experiences spring-boarded my curiosity and have educated my ongoing piano trio explorations. First, in May 2019, my partner and I went to Japan for quite a lot of weeks to have a trip and go to family and mates. Japan is a specific place and there are factors of it – from the angle of the music listener – that we really don’t have proper right here. 

A secondary mission this journey was to go to as many Jazz kissas (jazz bars/espresso retailers) as attainable. The Japanese custom locations a considerable quantity of significance on ceremony. To have a cup of tea at a kissaten (“tea-drinking retailer”) whereas listening to jazz has been a part of Japanese custom since 1929, nevertheless the modern connection between kissa and tea is further tenuous. Kissa are further about espresso (which moreover turned widespread all through the American occupation), on account of espresso and jazz collectively have been seen as very western and distinctive.

The Second World Battle had a profound have an effect on on the jazz kissa movement; listening to American jazz music was clearly forbidden with the two worldwide areas engaged in warfare all through the Pacific and it wanted to remain underground all through the battle years. American jazz artists turned widespread as soon as extra in Japan throughout the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties, nevertheless just a few people could afford the prices of the data. That actuality made the jazz kissa the one place that the frequent explicit particular person could profit from the music.

Our first night in Fukuoka, my partner met up with an earlier buddy, so I headed out for some solo exploring and occurred all through a spot often known as Jazz Bar Browny. Arriving pretty early (they’d merely opened, and the place was empty), I grabbed a seat on the bar and started chatting with the “grasp” (bartender and proprietor). He requested if I had any requests, and I immediate Duke Jordan’s Flight to Jordan

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On it went. Wonderful for this setting and their superb system. They really do have a extremely completely totally different appreciation of music and jazz in Japan and I prolonged for the day that I can experience one factor comparable in Canada or the USA. It’ll not at all have the equivalent setting as a result of the jazz kissas in Japan, nevertheless I really feel we would like them. It could sound significantly crazy (and even sad) to some, nevertheless jazz listeners in Japan will spend a complete day and night time listening to their favorite jazz recordings (every vinyl and CDs) in a jazz kissa. It serves as an opportunity to socialize, drink, and luxuriate in quite a few nice music on some great audio packages. 

The Japanese don’t want quite a few home. Really not the type of home for the packages utilized in these jazz bars and low retailers. The jazz kissa affords an opportunity to really experience music in a specific means. 

Browny's incredible sound system playing Duke Jordan's Flight to Jordan. JBLs at one end (not shown) and at the other, the bar, records, two Denon DP-1300 turntables with Shure V15iii cart's, McIntosh C30 preamp and MC2105 power amp.
Browny’s unimaginable sound system participating in Duke Jordan’s Flight to Jordan. JBLs at one end (not confirmed) and on the totally different, the bar, data, two Denon DP-1300 turntables with Shure V15iii cart’s, McIntosh C30 preamp and MC2105 vitality amp.

Duke and his crew sounded excellent, and on the end of the first aspect the grasp requested me for my excessive pianists. I mentioned among the many aforementioned artists. On reflection I ponder if he thought I was some ignorant westerner who be taught that guidelines in a stereo journal. 

His gleeful response made me discover how lucky I was to be in that exact second. 

“Tonight, I’ll educate you about my favourite jazz piano avid gamers!” he yelled all through the bar which was starting to get busy. 

And so began a procession of performers and knowledge I’d not at all heard of. Some acquired carried out (and have since been added to my assortment), and some solely talked about, photographed and filed away for later reference.

That night modified music for me. 

Billy Taylor – One for Pleasant (1959): The album that acquired me started on this textual content, and that I luckily managed to hint down just a few months up to now. Taylor was not solely a smart pianist and composer, nevertheless a jazz educator and promoter as successfully. Leonard Feather often known as him, indisputably “the world’s foremost spokesman for jazz.” He recorded prolifically throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, nevertheless a number of his discography is out of print and exhausting to go looking out, notably on vinyl. His swinging, bebop participating in is elegant, crisp, brightly playful and ingenious, and guaranteed to position an unlimited smile in your face.

Jazz Bar Browny's master introducing Billy Taylor.
Jazz Bar Browny’s grasp introducing Billy Taylor.

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto – Night and Day Dwell at Misty (2014): Yamamoto is a Browny favorite and performs there usually. He was self-taught (as far as jazz piano is fearful). Throughout the Seventies, he was every the house pianist at Misty, a Tokyo jazz membership for which this album was recorded for his or her 30th anniversary, and recorded prolifically by the renown Japanese jazz label, Three Blind Mice. His participating in choices energetic, funky syncopation, and a dominant correct hand. Yamamoto will get an viewers to maneuver its ft. 

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto's live Body and Soul, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Jazz Bar Misty.
Tsuyoshi Yamamoto’s reside Physique and Soul, celebrating the thirtieth Anniversary of Jazz Bar Misty.

Jack Wilson – Jack Wilson Quartet that features Roy Ayers (1963): This was Wilson’s first album as chief, with Roy Ayers on vibes making this not a trio recording, nevertheless sustaining the democratic trio actually really feel. Wilson’s participating in has been knocked for being by-product, with comparisons drawn to Bud Powell and Horace Silver, nevertheless I’m no educated on that and truly benefit from his jaunty, bouncing, rhythmic style. I get predictive hints of Ryo Fukui (whom he predated) in just a few of his work, which is certainly nothing to complain about. 

Michel Sardaby – Blue Sunset (1970): Sardaby hails from the island of Martinique throughout the Caribbean nevertheless moved to Paris throughout the ‘60s the place he began his career, sooner than settling in New York. Blue Sunset, recorded in Paris with Gilbert Rovere and Philippe Combelle, is a perfect late-night post-bop spin; warmth, refined, laid-back, and infused with a contact of the blues. It’s easy to consider that you just’re in some darkish piano bar merely sooner than closing. I’ve since found quite a lot of further of his releases, they normally share a similar vibe, with later albums that features further of a Latin swing. 

Bar Browny, Suntory Royal and Michel Sardaby brought together perfectly with Denon DP-1300 turntables with Shure V15iii cart's, McIntosh C30 preamp and MC2105 power amp
Bar Browny, Suntory Royal and Michel Sardaby launched collectively fully with Denon DP-1300 turntables with Shure V15iii cart’s, McIntosh C30 preamp and MC2105 vitality amp

Completely different data pulled and by no means carried out that night have been by Dick Morgan, Morris Nanton, Monty Alexander, Harold Mabern and Tete Montoliu. For some I’ve added data to the gathering, and others nonetheless attribute on the Discogs need guidelines, to be explored at a later date.

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My second “trio experience” – further prolonged – occurred on our return to Canada in June. With curiosity aroused, I appeared further into Japanese jazz artists; and pianists particularly. This launched me once more full circle to my first brushes with jazz 25+ years earlier. Time and again, I acquired right here all through Ryo Fukui, the godfather of Japanese jazz piano (or at least most likely probably the most well-known jazz pianist outdoor Japan). I ordered a reproduction of Environment, his 1976 debut, and from the quilt image and extra finding out about his origins, associated the dots to my time residing in Sapporo throughout the early ‘90s and listening to him play reside on Wednesday nights.

Barry Harris Plays Tadd Dameron, with Ryo Fukui's Scenery in the background.
Barry Harris Performs Tadd Dameron, with Ryo Fukui’s Environment throughout the background.

Following the breadcrumbs and finding out further about Fukui, led me to Barry Harris, one different performer-educator cited as one among his largest influences and biggest mates. He wasn’t a performer that I was acquainted with, nevertheless I rapidly realized that I wished to review further about him as he’d accompanied the likes of Paintings Farmer, Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley, Thad Jones and Lee Morgan on just a few of my favourite data. Preminado and The Ultimate Time I Seen Paris rapidly joined the rising piano trio assortment of albums at home. 

Barry Harris' Preminado with NAD 3020, Dynaco ST-70 and Dual 701.
Barry Harris’ Preminado with NAD 3020, Dynaco ST-70 and Twin 701.

Extra investigation of Japanese jazz piano stars launched Toshiko Akiyoshi to my consideration, discovered participating in in Ginza by a touring Oscar Peterson in 1953. He launched her to the attention of Verve’s Norman Granz, and off she went into the world of well-known jazz artists. 

Akiyoshi was well-known within the USA throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s for her small ensemble work (as chief and with first husband, Charlie Mariano), and throughout the ‘70s for her large band work with second husband, Lew Tabackin. What makes her work distinctive is the inclusion of Japanese melodies and themes (and customarily units), whereas on a regular basis staying true to jazz sensibilities. Her 1978 launch, Finesse, is a stunning trio recording. 

Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio's Finesse on the Yamaha YP701 turntable.
Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio’s Finesse on the Yamaha YP701 turntable.

And so for me the jazz piano journey continues, with diversions and extra discoveries to be made (once you’ve acquired choices, message me at @audioloveyyc). I do know I’ve missed a slew of various prime quality pianists proper right here, along with Tommy Flanagan, Horace Parlan, Duke Pearson, Kenny Drew, and further. Talked about or ignored, the entire artists exhibiting on this text are worthy of a hear. A return to Japan to benefit from music at my favorite jazz kissa is prolonged overdue.

Billy Taylor’s Interlude, purchased on Discogs just days ago. Currently in transit, somewhere between Paris and Calgary.
Billy Taylor’s Interlude, purchased on Discogs merely days up to now. At current in transit, someplace between Paris and Calgary.

I hope I’ve sparked some curiosity proper right here in a rich and pleasing jazz style. If I’ve, you’re in for an precise take care of as you’re employed your means by approach of some of those artists. And once you’re feeling overwhelmed questioning the place to start, blindfold your self and throw darts; you’ll have the ability to’t go improper.



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