Le Tres Jazz Club – a jazz reissue label, founded in 2017 by Fuzati a french artist, die-hard crate digger, and co-founder of the hip-hop act Klub Des Loosers along with Elvin Pagiras who runs Modulor / Modulor Records, a shop & record label based in Paris. Les Tres Jazz Club is a sub-label to Modulor Records specializing in rare and sought after Jazz titles, where originals have seen exorbitant prices on our friendly neighborhood site, Discogs.
We've been really interested in Japanese Jazz for a while now, and interestingly enough, this French label is a great doorway into that world. Their pressings are top-notch and the packaging comes through nice and neat! What really shines though, is the music they choose to reissue. Let’s dive into the reissues by Le Tres Jazz Club that are currently at the vault, which you might have missed in your time here!
1. Mabumi Yamaguchi Quartet – Leeward
The newest edition to our Japanese Jazz catalog - Leeward by Mabumi Yamaguchi Quartet. With the opening track "Dawn" a long and slow piece led by a Fender Rhodes played in flanger mode, on which Mabumi Yamaguchi expresses a certain melancholy. A cross between Herbie Hancock and some of the lovely sounds produced by Les McCan on his Rhodes. The second piece, “Dewdrop”, a duet piece with Ichiro Doi on the piano invokes the same feeling of melancholy, minimal and sweet to the ears. The perfect 2 songs to start the album!
The rhythm picks up on the 3rd track "Distant thunder", a kind of jazz-funk samba in which Mabumi Yamaguchi lets each of his musicians take a long chorus, giving ample space for each instrument to shine - Reminiscent of the sounds of Azymuth with a Japanese Jazz touch sprinkled on top. The beautiful "Leeward" closes the album in a slightly more traditional but equally mastered style - a Bossanova feel that takes you right into the Yamaguchi Quartet Jazz club. It is almost impossible today to find an original pressing of this record, this reissue does justice to the music and definitely, a must-have for Japanese Jazz lovers. Have a listen :)
2. Akira Miyazawa – Four Units
Four units is a reissue of a 1969 session that teams Akira Miyazawa (Tenor Saxophone) with Masahiko Satoh (Piano), Yasuo Arakawa (Bass), and Masahiko Togashi (Drums) for four refreshing originals and a jazzy rework of Scarborough Fair. The music on the LP circles the outer reaches of hard bop mixed with a cup of free jazz, blues, and a slice of the spiritual cake. The opening title track showcases Akira Miyazawa's ability to stretch the sound of his Tenor Saxophone while still keeping a melodious theme as the rhythm section improvises on top of each phrasing. The second song, Dull summer introduces more of a Hard Bop feel to it, which slowly evolves into the avant-garde realm of things with Masahiko Togashi shining on the drums.
On the third track Scarborough Fair, arranged by pianist Masahiko Satoh, we can hear the spirit of Coltrane, with a strong dynamic flow from start to end mixed with a mystical mood reminiscent of Coltrane's legendary quartet. The phrasing of the piano and drums sound like an ode to Elvin Jones and Mccoy Tyner, while still adding their unique Japanese flavor to it. Overall a great LP to listen to from start to end! Four Units reveals Akira Miyazawa's unique style along with three other talented musicians whose work deserves more widespread recognition. This reissue is a must-have as well for all Japanese Jazz lovers, check it out!
3. Makoto Terashita – Great Harvest
A lovely reissue of Makoto Terashita’s Great Harvest, originally released in 1978. Terashita has only released three records under his name with Great Harvest being the first followed by Topology in 1984 and Ihatov, a trio setting released in 1997. Here we see Terashita's exceptional mastery of the piano, accompanied by Bob Berg on tenor sax, Errol Walter on bass, Jo Jones Jr on drums, and Yoshiaki Masuo on guitar. The first track ‘Samoa’ was written with the image of a giraffe running on the prairie, a blend of Jazz-funk, Soul-jazz that touches lightly on your ears like the calm energy of a giraffe.
The third track Dai Hosaku (Great Harvest) was inspired by McCoy Tyner, where you can hear Terashita's magical touch on the keys and Tyner's influence in his choice of voicings. Here he takes each moment with a certain ease yet assertive in its mood, presenting a strong sense of nostalgia that really sets the scene of a "great harvest" somewhere in the countryside of Japan. Ending the LP is a beautiful cover of Ruby My Dear (Thelonious Monk), that sums up the entire mood of Great Harvest - a perfect tune in our opinion for an imagined night jazz club you wished you were in on a rainy day. You might have also learned about Makoto Terashita in BBE's J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan series. Volume 2 of that entry opens with him and Harold Land's Dragon Dance. Essential for all Japanese jazz fans and all great jazz lovers.
4. George Otsuka Quintet - Physical Structure
The first reissue of George Otsuka Quintet's Physical Structure, which was originally released in 1976 via Three Blind Mice. Physical Structure is an amazing jazz-fusion album, featuring George Otsuka (Drums), Fumio Karashima (Piano / Electric Piano), Shozo Sasaki (Tenor / Alto Sax), Mitsuako Furuno (Bass), and Norio Ohno (Percussion). The album starts out with Fumio Karashima on piano gently building up the track as the Quintet slowly introduces new palettes of sound to ignite your curiosity. A certain sense of free jazz centered with a melodic theme on the piano while the rest of the instruments color around it.
The third track, Mustard Pot really showcases the fusion sound of Physical Structure - Electric synths and piano inducing dream-like melodies along with George Otsuka displaying his great sense of rhythm backed with Norio on percussion doing a call and response to his rhythmic chants. The standout track for us would be the sublime cover of "Naima" which alone justifies getting this record. The percussion and synth leading to the saxophone lead is one of the finest - goosebumps-inducing, which definitely sums up their jam as a quintet. Overall this LP is perfect for all jazz-fusion lovers and definitely a must-listen for those looking for something interesting and unique!
Thank you for reading!
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