Release Date: 15/9/2023
Japan has produced some exceptionally talented jazz drummers and among them is Tatsuya Nakamura, who joins the BBE Music J Jazz Masterclass Series with his album ‘Locus’ from 1984, a session covering several bases, from heavy percussive samba to meditative avant-ambient. This is the album’s first ever reissue, although a track from ‘Locus’, ‘1⁄4 Samba’, was included on J Jazz vol. 3.
Nakamura began his drumming career as a teenager, inspired after seeing the documentary film “Jazz on A Summer’s Day” and listening to his idols Art Blakey and Miles Davis. By his early twenties, Nakamura was working with such luminaries as free jazz guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi, pianist Masaru Imada and band leader & composer Mitsuaki Kanno. In the mid-70s, like several other Japanese jazz players, Nakamura decided to make the move to New York where he studied drumming with Roy Haynes, and performed with members of the AACM and players from the loft and free jazz scenes including Richard Davis, George Adams, John Hicks, and Pharaoh Sanders. Returning to Japan, Nakamura continued playing as leader of his Japanese band The Jazz Fellows and in 1979, he went into the studio as leader for the classic “Where Is The Quarter” session featuring Masaru Imada, Hideto Kanai and Kenji Mori. This session includes the original percussion heavy version of ‘1⁄4 Samba’ and was followed by a period back in NYC during which he recorded the funky/free session ‘Rip Off’ in 1980. 1984 saw Nakamura working as leader of a heavy-duty fusion septet and in February of that year he led them in a performance at Audio Technica Hall. The album ‘Locus’ on Sea Horse Records is the label’s one and only release.
On ‘Locus’, Nakamura is joined by a stellar line-up. On trumpet is Shinobu Fujimoto and he’s joined by seasoned bass player Hideto Kanai (1931 -2011) who began playing in the mid- 1950s, appearing on King Recs All-Star Jazz Series before going on to be a regular fixture on the legendary Three Blind Mice (TBM) label, backing many of its leading artists. He even released his own album on TBM, ‘Ode to Birds’ in 1975. On guitar is Kazumasa Akiyama. Born in Tokyo in 1955, he taught himself guitar at 10 years old and was influenced initially by The Beatles and Ray Charles, and later Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Chicago Blues, and jazz. When he was a student, he got a chance to appear on Sadao Watanabe's radio program ‘My Dear Life’, which led him to join the Isao Suzuki Group and Mikio Masuda Group. Akiyama released his first leader album ‘Dig My Style’ in 1978 and is still an active musician. On keys is the incredible Jun Fukamachi (1946-2010). Born in Harajuku, Tokyo, Fukamachi started playing the piano at the age of three, showing an extraordinary talent, recognised as a child prodigy. He became a professional musician while still in school and released his first album ‘Portrait of a Young Man’ on Polydor in 1971. A pioneer of synthesizer, and among the first to popularise fusion in Japan, Fukamachi has composed and produced numerous recordings embracing jazz, fusion, funk, rock, and classical. An internationally recognised figure, Fukamachi worked with Anthony Jackson, David Sanborn, Randy and Michael Brecker, Mike Mainieri, Steve Gadd, and Richard Tee. Percussionist Tatsuji Yokoyama has worked across Japanese jazz and fusion since the 1970s appearing on albums from the likes of Masahiko Togashi, Takao Uematsu, Mikio Masuda, Toshiyuki Honda, Yuji Ohno and Shigeharu Mukai.
Tatsuya Nakamura continues to record and play live with many musicians including The New York Unit, and has toured extensively across Africa, Senegal, Morocco, Turkey, Australia and Indonesia. He remains active to this day, recording and touring with his band Japan Jazz Unit.
The J Jazz Masterclass Series is curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden for BBE Music.
B1 1/4 Samba II
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