Jazz is a worldwide genre, having spread from its origins from the blues in the Deep South of the USA. Being a music of spontaneity, of creativity as the muse takes the musicians, it’s inevitable that ethnic themes, echoes of ‘traditional’ melodies and the physical sounds of local instruments, come to the fore.
It’s not a new phenomenon. Way back in 1964, Dave Brubeck’s classic quartet recorded an album entitled Jazz Impressions of Japan, and you can here it here.
A trawl through my jazz archives has uncovered five tracks with connections to Japan, two from Japanese musicians and the other three from musicians who, I presume, have had gigs there.
I’m not sure what Kazumi Watanabe’s track translates as: Google suggests ‘Enshu Swallow-back‘, and maybe it is, or isn’t. Google isn’t sure either: it asks “Is it – 遠州 つばめ 返し, or this – 園主 燕 返し?
No matter … having seen him at the first JakJazz Festival in 1988, I know Kazumi is a damn fine guitarist.
The other tracks have obvious connections with Japan; just read the titles.
But first, here’s a little Lite music from a Japanese ‘experimental jazz’ group…
1. Christian Wallumrod – Japanese Choral
2. David Torn’s Everyman Band – Japan Smiles
3. Kazumi Watanabe – Ensyu Tsubame Gaeshi
4. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Calling from Tokyo
5. Ulf Wakenius – Song For Japan