Artist: Tohru Aizawa Quartet
Genre: Latin Jazz, Modal, Post-Bop, Free Jazz
Label: Tachibana Record
The album, Tachibana, was recorded in 1975 and, until included on the J Jazz compilation, was unknown except to a small group of obsessive Japanese jazz collectors. The privately pressed record was the only album made by the Quartet, four amateur musicians who were university students at the time. The session was financed by a local businessman, Ikujiroh Tachibana, who pressed up a few hundred copies to use as a business card. In the intervening 40 odd years since its recording, few copies have surfaced, making it an in-demand yet elusive artefact from the golden age of Japanese jazz. BBE Records are honoured to present a fully authorised reissue of this holy grail, licensed directly from the band themselves.
Tachibana has all the necessary components of a cult album: pressed in small numbers, a few mysterious and vague details about its origins, languishing in obscurity for decades and, above all, superb musical craftsmanship and skill. It can now be enjoyed by a new audience around the world.
The album opens with the dynamic percussion work-out Philosopher’s Stone written by the then law-student and drummer Tetsuya Morimura. It propels along with the band at full pelt, showcasing Morimura’s well-developed drumming style. For a teenage amateur player to compose and perform such an accomplished and impressive piece is a testament to the talent that the band contained. Philosopher’s Stone is followed by Sacrament, an epic modal composition by saxophonist Kyoichiro Morimura that fans of Wayne Shorter, Pharoah Sanders and late-era John Coltrane will appreciate. After an extended intro the band drop into a heavy, churning groove, Morimura’s saxophone scorching above the volcanic rhythm section.
Dead Letter, written by Aizawa himself, is an epic piano led symphony of spiritual jazz. Think McCoy Tyner at his imperial finest and you’ll get a flavour: impact, emotion and power all suffuse to create a overwhelming experience. Amazingly, this is still the only Aizawa composition yet to be recorded.
The Tachibana album also includes two cover versions, both Latin flavoured numbers delivered with élan and brio: La Fiesta by Chick Corea and the classic Samba de Orfeu by Luiz Bonfá.
So, just five tracks in total, the sole existing evidence of an astonishing band, the Tohru Aizawa Quartet.
Tohru Aizawa – piano
Kyoichiroh Morimura – tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Kohzoh Watanabe – 渡辺康蔵 bass
Tetsuya Morimura – drums
01. Philosopher’s Stone (T. Morimura) – 10:11
02. Sacrament (K. Morimura) – 11:24
03. La Fiesta (Corea) – 9:57
04. Dead Letter (Aizawa) – 10:13
05. Samba de Orfeu (Bonfa) – 6:07
Recorded at Tachibana Sound Hall, Numata, Gunma, Japan on March 30, 1975.