Japanese jazz, "j-jazz"

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Couldn't seem to find a thread dedicated to this...I know very little about this but am starting to dig into it. I've been inspired by this upcoming comp from BBE (https://www.bbemusic.com/downloads/j-jazz/) and have come across some amazing stuff by Japanese jazz musicians in different mixes and podcasts of late (e.g., Terumasa Hino, Masabumi Kikuchi, Takeo Moriyama) and would love to dive deeper. It seems like Japan had its own very fertile scene with a fair bit of cross-pollination with a lot of US and European jazz musicians over the years.

Any suggestions? Good places to start? Comps? Labels? A s/d, perhaps?

Federico Boswarlos, Tuesday, 16 January 2018 20:44 (one year ago) link

Some examples of stuff I'm feeling...


Federico Boswarlos, Thursday, 18 January 2018 16:51 (one year ago) link


Federico Boswarlos, Thursday, 18 January 2018 16:54 (one year ago) link

I don't know anything about this but definitely interested, thanks for posting

bhad and bhabie (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 18 January 2018 16:56 (one year ago) link


Federico Boswarlos, Thursday, 18 January 2018 16:57 (one year ago) link


Brad C., Thursday, 18 January 2018 17:46 (one year ago) link


one way street, Thursday, 18 January 2018 17:51 (one year ago) link


one way street, Thursday, 18 January 2018 17:52 (one year ago) link

Hideo Ichikawa – electric piano
Kunimitsu Inaba – bass
Motohiko Hino – drums

IF (Terrorist) Yes, Explain (man alive), Thursday, 18 January 2018 18:24 (one year ago) link

i know next to nothing about this stuff BUT enjoyed this


the late great, Thursday, 18 January 2018 18:31 (one year ago) link

whoa what a cool thread

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Thursday, 18 January 2018 18:34 (one year ago) link

That Kikuchi/Evans LP is the best

Brakhage, Thursday, 18 January 2018 18:41 (one year ago) link


Brad C., Thursday, 18 January 2018 19:44 (one year ago) link

Hiromi has done some killer albums, she is a hyperactive uber virtuoso who is never dull.

calzino, Thursday, 18 January 2018 19:57 (one year ago) link

is there a Japanese equivalent of Spotify I can subscribe to?

niels, Thursday, 18 January 2018 20:47 (one year ago) link


Brad C., Thursday, 18 January 2018 23:31 (one year ago) link

Cool, thanks for sharing these upthread. That Watarase track is lovely and that version of Strawberry Fields is absolutely one of the better (best?) Beatles covers I've heard!

In addition to the BBE comp, it turns out the Jazzman label is also looking to Japan for the forthcoming new entry in its Spiritual Jazz series.

Snippets are avail, discovered this jam from it:


Federico Boswarlos, Friday, 19 January 2018 15:22 (one year ago) link

"To mark the release of 'J Jazz: Deep jazz from Japan 1969-1984' on BBE records on 23 Feb 2018, this is a two hour mix feat tracks from the compilation plus other J jazz killers. The compilation was put together by myself and Mike 'Bacoso' Peden. Heavyweight post-Coltrane modal/fusion/spiritual deepness from some of the rarest Japanese jazz albums ever produced."


Federico Boswarlos, Monday, 29 January 2018 16:28 (one year ago) link

A little peripheral but I'm putting it here because it never garnered much attention here:


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 29 January 2018 16:38 (one year ago) link

i still like the smooth jazz that intersects with city pop. this sounds like it could be one of the better tracks on a sonic the hedgehog soundtrack.


Arnold Schoenberg Steals (rushomancy), Monday, 29 January 2018 17:51 (one year ago) link


budo jeru, Monday, 29 January 2018 17:58 (one year ago) link



budo jeru, Monday, 29 January 2018 17:59 (one year ago) link

wow is that walrdon / hino good! thanks, federico.

budo jeru, Monday, 29 January 2018 18:01 (one year ago) link

teruto soejima wrote a "history of japanese free jazz" in 2002. i wonder if it will ever be translated.


budo jeru, Monday, 29 January 2018 18:03 (one year ago) link

also i've been meaning to read this:


Japan’s jazz community—both musicians and audience—has been begrudgingly recognized in the United States for its talent, knowledge, and level of appreciation. Underpinning this tentative admiration, however, has been a tacit agreement that, for cultural reasons, Japanese jazz “can’t swing.” In Blue Nippon E. Taylor Atkins shows how, strangely, Japan’s own attitude toward jazz is founded on this same ambivalence about its authenticity.
Engagingly told through the voices of many musicians, Blue Nippon explores the true and legitimate nature of Japanese jazz. Atkins peers into 1920s dancehalls to examine the Japanese Jazz Age and reveal the origins of urban modernism with its new set of social mores, gender relations, and consumer practices. He shows how the interwar jazz period then became a troubling symbol of Japan’s intimacy with the West—but how, even during the Pacific war, the roots of jazz had taken hold too deeply for the “total jazz ban” that some nationalists desired. While the allied occupation was a setback in the search for an indigenous jazz sound, Japanese musicians again sought American validation. Atkins closes out his cultural history with an examination of the contemporary jazz scene that rose up out of Japan’s spectacular economic prominence in the 1960s and 1970s but then leveled off by the 1990s, as tensions over authenticity and identity persisted.


budo jeru, Monday, 29 January 2018 18:06 (one year ago) link


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 29 January 2018 18:06 (one year ago) link

is there a Japanese equivalent of Spotify I can subscribe to?

NHK radio has a weekly jazz program that i think you can stream:


budo jeru, Monday, 29 January 2018 19:36 (one year ago) link

That Atkins book is especially interesting on pre-war jazz -- especially the role of Philippine bands as role models and on Shanghai as a proving ground for Japanese players. He's also thorough on the war years and the grim ways musicians embraced or adapted to extreme nationalism. What we'd generally recognize as jazz didn't really get going in Japan until the Occupation years, when the scene shifted from dance halls to coffee shops. Atkins is a historian so his emphasis is more on the social contexts than on analysis of the music, but he seems to cover all the big-name players prior to 1980 or so.

The Japanese quest for jazz authenticity is pretty fascinating and puts concerns about authenticity within American music in a constructively weird perspective.

Brad C., Monday, 29 January 2018 19:50 (one year ago) link

cool, i will have to check that out. tbh the premise sounded kind of insufferable to me, it's nice to know that the "argument" or w/e of the book is potentially as interesting as the facts i had hoped to gleam in spite of academic handwringing over "authenticity"

the volume that atkins edited -- "jazz planet" -- is positively packed with essays that each look super interesting. but that's for a different thread.

also, it looks like michael molasky (who made a contribution to "jazz planet") is working on a translation of a book he wrote originally in japanese -- "the jazz culture of postwar japan: film, literature, subculture"



budo jeru, Monday, 29 January 2018 20:19 (one year ago) link

gleam = glean lol

budo jeru, Monday, 29 January 2018 20:27 (one year ago) link

Another nice one,


Federico Boswarlos, Friday, 9 February 2018 18:47 (one year ago) link

Also interesting to hear about Jazz becoming popular during the Occupation in Japan. I recall something similar being the case - though pls correct me if wrong - in Germany while troops were stationed during/after WWII and with jazz clubs opening to cater to them.

Federico Boswarlos, Friday, 9 February 2018 18:50 (one year ago) link

four months pass...

Comp with more of an epic scope than the (awesome) BBE one, listening now and very much enjoying:


Daniel_Rf, Sunday, 24 June 2018 12:48 (one year ago) link

I wrote about the BBE and Jazzman compilations back in April. Now it turns out the very rare album Tachibana by the Tohru Aizawa Quartet, one track from which appears on the J-Jazz comp, is being reissued next month. I pre-ordered it on Bandcamp:


grawlix (unperson), Sunday, 24 June 2018 13:57 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

Listening to the J-Jazz Como a lot this week and Eiji Nakayama’s Aya’s Samba is a wonderful piece. Almost disarmingly simple and slightly melancholic but beautiful textured.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Monday, 9 July 2018 22:48 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Just got this press release:

BBE Music is proud to present the next instalment in the J Jazz Masterclass Series: ‘East Plants’ by Takeo Moriyama, one of Japan’s finest jazz drummers.
A genuine ‘under the radar’ album known only to a handful of Japanese jazz collectors, ‘East Plants’ is now available once more, reissued for the first time as a double 180g LP, with exact reproductions of the original artwork, obi strip and insert. It also comes with the original notes fully translated. ‘East Plants’ is also available as CD and digital formats. This reissue is fully endorsed by Takeo Moriyama himself.
Originally released in 1983 on the Japanese VAP label, ‘East Plants’ is an essential album in the J Jazz canon. It’s an album that distils several key characteristics of Moriyama’s music: clearly articulated and inventive rhythms, open yet orderly arrangements, and an accessible groove balanced with a graceful control.

dow, Friday, 7 September 2018 20:51 (one year ago) link

the Tohru Aizawa Quartet record is (mostly) awesome. some seriously fiery playing.

tylerw, Friday, 7 September 2018 20:57 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

That Takeo Moriyama is great. The two epics that bookend it in particular.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 18 October 2018 15:05 (one year ago) link

this is it! (satoko fujii, natsuki tamura, takashi itani) 1538 album. opens up with this absolutely smouldering maelstrom that I've repeated a couple of times now, without listening to the rest of the album yet.

calzino, Thursday, 18 October 2018 15:13 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

public bath press has just put out a first-ever english translation of teruto soejima's landmark history of japanese free jazz:


This book, the only history of free jazz in Japan, has been reprinted many times in Japan and is finally available to readers overseas in English translation. From its earliest stirrings in the 1960s until it reached international recognition in the 1970s and after, free jazz in Japan is a unique music that has found its perfect scribe. Soejima Teruto was a writer who fell in love with a music and devoted his life to it as promoter, critic, label owner, tour organizer, and much more. All new photos in this edition, none used from the original Japanese volume. Introduction by Otomo Yoshihide.

you can get it here:


budo jeru, Wednesday, 19 December 2018 17:45 (ten months ago) link

six months pass...

this sounds soooo good right now


budo jeru, Monday, 1 July 2019 18:51 (three months ago) link

also i finally got my copy of the soejima teruto book i posted about above and boy is it great, just super interesting and full of great recommendations for music of course

i'll probably be posting some of those things here if i remember to, almost tempted to put together a discography or maybe just post a playlist online somewhere

budo jeru, Monday, 1 July 2019 18:56 (three months ago) link

There's a second volume of the BBE J-Jazz compilation coming in September - you're better off buying a physical copy than just getting it from Bandcamp, though, 'cause they only licensed I think 5 tracks for digital and the 2CD set has 15. I pre-ordered mine already.


shared unit of analysis (unperson), Monday, 1 July 2019 18:59 (three months ago) link

did they do the thing again where there is vinyl-exclusive content ?

budo jeru, Monday, 1 July 2019 19:05 (three months ago) link

oh it's the other way around this time (14 vinyl tracks, 15 CD tracks)

budo jeru, Monday, 1 July 2019 19:08 (three months ago) link

two months pass...

This Hiroshi Suzuki album keeps coming up on my youtube recommendations - and according to this guy lots of other people's.

Few albums better illustrate the magic of YouTube as a music platform...

And it's pretty great, even more when I realised the fellow was playing the trobone.

There's one other album on discogs but seems to be very little else.


Ned Trifle X, Sunday, 22 September 2019 15:12 (one month ago) link


calzino, Sunday, 22 September 2019 15:15 (one month ago) link

I haven't seen Cat on my recs list for a while since I stopped doing J music deep dives, however, I still get Plastic Love by Mariya Takeuchi all the time, it's up to 12m hits, insanity.

Maresn3st, Sunday, 22 September 2019 20:13 (one month ago) link

27 million actually. Crazy.

Ned Trifle X, Sunday, 22 September 2019 22:13 (one month ago) link

Still loving the Takeo Moriyama

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 23 September 2019 15:41 (one month ago) link

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