Takayanagi & Seikatsu Kōjyō Iinkai LP

Seikatsu Kōjyō Iinkai – Seikatsu Kōjyō Iinkai LP Aguirre records

Ferocious JP / US free jazz bomb. A rare meeting between the NYC free jazz scene and the Japanese free music scene. Old-style Gatefold LP, with rare photographs & liner notes by Alan Cummings.

Following hot on the heels of the first, mid-sixties generation of Japanese free jazz players like Kaoru Abe, Masayuki Takayanagi, Yōsuke Yamashita, Motoharu Yoshizawa, etc., an exciting second wave of younger players began to emerge in the seventies. Two of its leading members were the saxophonist Kazutoki Umezu and multi-instrumentalist Yoriyuki Harada. Both were post-war babies and immigrants to the city, Umezu from Sendai in the north and Harada from Shimane in the west. They first met as students in the clarinet department at the Kunitachi College of Music, a well-known conservatory in western Tokyo. Harada was already securing sideman gigs on bass with professional jazz groups and was active in student politics, making good use of his connections to set up jazz concerts on campus. It was around this time that the two began to play together in an improvised duo, with Umezu on clarinet and bass clarinet and Harada on piano. They also experimented with graphic scores and prepared piano.

These experiments eventually led to the creation of a trio, with a high-school student called Tetsuya Morimura on drums, that they decided to name Seikatsu Kōjyō Iinkai (Lifestyle Improvement Committee) in joking reference to the Marxist discourse of the student radicals of the time. Around 1973, Umezu and Harada decided to call it a day and go their separate ways. Umezu began playing with the Toshinori Kondo Unit and Harada with the Tadashi Yoshida Quintet. In 1974 Harada formed his own trio and began to play at jazz coffeehouses across Japan.

Things were going so well that Umezu wrote to Harada and invited him to come to New York. He accepted and arrived in the city in July 1975. Harada and Umezu took the opportunity to resume their artistic collaboration. Their first concert together in over two years took place on July 20th at another loft, Sunrise Studios at 122 2nd Avenue. Umezu remembers Sunrise as an unusually sunny loft with the rarest of things, a grand piano. He invited along Ahmed Abdullah, a trumpeter he had got to know while playing with Ted Daniel. Abdullah led his own group and was a long-term Sun Ra sideman. William Parker, one of the key figures in the loft jazz scene of the period, was on bass. Abdullah also brought along Rashid Sinan on drums. Sinan drummed in Abdullah’s units throughout the seventies, but he had also played on Frank Lowe’s immortal Black Beings album and collaborated with Arthur Doyle, playing on Doyle’s Alabama Feeling album. By all accounts the evening was a huge success, with speed and dynamism of Harada’s piano playing gaining him lots of support.

$26

Takayanagi Masayuki New Direction for the Art – La Grima LP Aguirre records

Famed free jazz concert registration of an early New Direction for the Art performance. Recorded in 1971. Old-style Gatefold LP, with rare photographs & extensive liner notes by Alan Cummings.

The performance by Takayanagi Masayuki New Direction for the Art at the Gen’yasai festival on August 14, 1971 was an intense, bruising collision between the radical, anti-establishment politics of the period in Japan and the febrile avant-garde music that had begun to emerge a few years before. The ferocious performance that you can hear here was received with outright hostility by the audience, who responded first with catcalls and later with showers of debris that were hurled at the performers. Takayanagi though described the group’s performance to jazz magazine Swing Journal as a success, “an authentic and realistic depiction of the situation”.

“La Grima” (tears), the piece that was played at the Gen’yasai festival, is a mass projection and listening to it, you can get a clear sense of what Takayanagi was aiming at. Mass projection involves a dense, speedy and chaotic colouring in of space that destroys the listener’s perception of time, and thus of musical development.

The ferocity of the performance of “La Grima” at the Gen’yasai Festival in Sanrizuka on August 14, 1971 was consciously grounded by Takayanagi in a particular historical moment, ripe with conflict and violence. A month after the festival, on September 16, three policemen would die during struggles at the site. This was the context that the three-day Gen’yasai Festival existed within. The line-up reflected the radical politics of the movement, with leading free jazz musicians like Takayanagi, Abe Kaoru, and Takagi Mototeru appearing alongside radical ur-punkers Zuno Keisatsu, heavy electric blues bands like Blues Creation, and Haino Keiji’s scream-jazz unit Lost Aaraaff.

$26

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