We are proud to announce BBE’s very first book: J Jazz: Free and Modern Jazz From Japan 1954-1988
BBE Music is thrilled to present J Jazz: Free and Modern Jazz From Japan 1954-1988, a remarkable large-format hardcover book covering some of the deepest, rarest, and most innovative jazz music released anywhere in the post-war era. Compiled by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden, co-curators of BBE Music’s acclaimed J Jazz Masterclass Series, the book also features a foreword by Japanese jazz icon, Terumasa Hino.
This is the first time a book of this type has been has been published outside of Japan and the first anywhere of this size and scale. It is a unique collection of over 500 albums of free and modern jazz recorded and released in Japan during a period of radical transformation and constant reinvention. An era that saw Japan return from the ravages of World War Two to become a global economic power and emerge as both a technological leader and an international cultural force.
Through a unique gallery of albums, J Jazz charts the development of jazz in Japan from the first stirrings of the modern jazz scene in the mid to late 1950s and on through the hard bop and modal jazz of the 1960s. It steers the reader into the radical directions of the 1970s when free jazz, fusion, post-bop, and jazz-funk opened up a growing number of Japanese jazz artists to a new global audience before consolidating in the mid to late 1980s with a musical scene that laid the path for the contemporary jazz generation to follow.
Over 500 full-colour sleeves from many of the leading names in Japanese jazz sit alongside rare and private pressings that tell a story of constant change and musical exploration. J Jazz includes profiles of several leading record labels such as East Wind, Frasco, King Records, and Nippon Columbia as well as critical independents such as Three Blind Mice, ALM, and Aketa’s Disk. J Jazz includes interviews with celebrated jazz photographer Tadayuki Naito, and pianist Tohru Aizawa, bandleader on the totemic spiritual jazz album, Tachibana Vol 1, as well as free-jazz record collector and jazz musician Mats Gustafsson.
The book also features a chapter on albums by non-Japanese artists that only received a Japanese release, with collectible, rare, and obscure releases by figures such as Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy, and Art Blakey. J Jazz includes Japanese jazz charts from some of the world’s leading jazz DJs including Gilles Peterson, Toshio Matsuura, Paul Murphy, and Shuya and Yoshihiro Okino. Among the specialist content is a feature on obi strips by record dealer and Japanese jazz expert, Yusuke Ogawa, plus a special article on Japanese Blue Note albums.
Across its 300-plus pages, J Jazz includes a detailed introduction contextualising the music, tracing the story of Japan’s fascination with jazz back before the war. It also features biographical information on many of the key artists involved in shaping the post- war Japanese jazz scene including Sadao Watanabe, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Masabumi Kikuchi, Masahiko Togashi, Terumasa Hino, Yosuke Yamashita, Fumio Itabashi, Masayuki Takayanagi, Takeo Moriyama, Isao Suzuki, and many more.
Check out a playlist compiled by one the the J Jazz Masterclass curators, Mike Peden below