Released: 03/06/22 (delayed from 13/05/22)
A rare meeting between the NYC free jazz scene and the Japanese free music scene. Old-style Gatefold LP, with rare photographs & liner notes by Alan Cummings. Following hot on the heels of the first, mid-sixties generation ofJapanese free jazz players like Kaoru Abe, Masayuki Takayanagi, Yōsuke Yamashita, Motoharu Yoshizawa, etc., an exciting second wave of younger players began to emerge in the seventies. Two of its leading members were the saxophonist Kazutoki Umezu and multi-instrumentalist Yoriyuki Harada. Both were post-war babies and immigrants to the city, Umezu from Sendai in the north and Harada from Shimane in the west.
Umezu began playing with the Toshinori Kondo Unit and Harada with the Tadashi Yoshida Quintet. In 1974 Harada formed his own trio and began to play at jazz coffeehouses across Japan. Then, in September 1974 Umezu travelled alone to New York, where he set about building connections with the loft jazz scene in the city. It was a fortuitous moment to arrive in New York. Rents were cheap in the Lower East Side, possibilities for squatting existed, so many musicians and artists had moved to the area. Umezu soon became known on the scene as Kappo and he started to make connections with some of the young musicians like David Murray, Arthur Blythe, and Oliver Lake.
Here, on their first recordings, the humour element is not yet present. Instead, there is a febrile sense of joy in creation and connection. On the Umezu-penned “Kim”, for example, Harada opens the piece with a speedy exploration of the full-range of the keyboard, hitting hard on the bass keys to create a rhythmic bed out of which patterns begin to emerge. Umezu enters at a much slower pace, longer held notes that at first float weightlessly over the urgency of the piano before they begin in splinter and accelerate.When Parker and Sinan kick in, it’s a rollicking tempo with Parker plucking deep and hard and the left-handed Sinan skittering hard across the topside of his kit. Abdullah kicks in a glorious solo twelve minutes in, bright and breathy at once. The piece slows and grows more spacious towards the end, giving Parker a chance to showcase some arco work that shades beautifully into the air against Abdullah’s trumpet.