Sailing Ice (Blu-Spec CD/Mini-LP Sleeve)
The Japanese jazz scene is finally getting the attention it deserves. Long written off as just a scene filled with copycats of American and European artists, jazz fans around the world are now discovering that there was some amazing music being created there. Some of the musicians like Terumasa Hino and Masabumi Kikuchi crossed over into the world jazz scene but for the most part many of the musicians there only gained popularity in Japan. One of the most important Japanese jazz labels from the 70s was Three Blind Mice. It was started in 1970 by producer Takeshi "Tee" Fuji. The label adhered to strict audiophile standards and all of the releases on the label featured exemplary sonics. The music of Three Blind Mice tended to fall into three facets of jazz (they would crossover from time to time). Some of the artists play very traditional straight ahead jazz. Frankly while this stuff appeals to audiophiles its not that appealing beyond the sonics. There was also an experimental side to the label featuring a lot of free jazz blowing. The third aspect, which to my ears is the most interesting, is the area where the label explored modal jazz, often with an electric element. Very little of it would be hard card fusion, but a rock element would sometimes be present. This falls into the realm that has been broadly tagged as "kosmigroov".
The label only existed in the 70s and the rights to the catalog has now passed over to Sony Music. Think Records in Japan has started a limited ediiton reissue campaign of the Three Blind Mice label. They arrive in mini-LP sleeves and are manufactured using Sony's proprietary Blu-Spec process. We are cherry picking titles we think should have your attention.
Motohiko Hino is one of the great jazz drummers in Japan. He also happens to be the brother of the mighty trumpeter Terumasa Hino. Sailing Ice is a live recording from Nemuro, Japan on 2/7/76. In addition to the standard quartet of Yasuaki shimizu (tenor/soprano sax), Kazumi Watanabe (guitar), Nobuyoshi Ino (bass), (and of course Motohiko Hino on drums), you have the addition of Mabumi Yamaguchi on tenor sax.
This is killer modal/spiritual jazz with tremendous energy. All the musicians interconnect with that telepathic ability that seems to be inate in the great jazz musicians. Hino is a monster drummer very much in the Tony Williams vein. I'm always smitten with Kazumi Watanabe's electric guitar work and he burns the house down on this one. Highly recommended.