Jazz (1): Smokin’ Joe in Japan

Jazz is a tricky one.

...forgot to pack my damn shirt

A few years ago, The Knife, having had a passing acquaintance with “classic” jazz like John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (didn’t really get it), and the inevitable Kind of Blue (nice, but too easily becomes background), had a bit of an epiphany, to use the fashionable term.

It coincided with a flood of cheap jazz CD’s on the high street, and it just took off, so that I ended up with stacks of new CD’s of all kinds, from the rest of Coltrane’s mighty output to the aurally offensive European free jazz of Peter Brotzmann. All great in their own way, and I couldn’t then, and can’t now, really explain why I like it.

Anyway, having bought for a paltry £3,  Joe Henderson in Japan, recorded in 1971 and released by Original Jazz Classics, I can confidently say that if anyone is looking for a reason to like jazz, or just try and get into it, this is an album for you.

Joe was really one of the second tier tenor sax players, in theory. He died in 2001. The album is a live recording of a one off date in a Tokyo venue, the Junk Club. The pick up band of Japanese musicians are unsung heroes. There’s no point in going through the tracks, but simply to state that if you want to try really fine locked-into-a-groove timeles jazz, get this.

Funnily enough, The Knife hasn’t had the same pleasure from more notable Henderson dates, such as his many Blue Note discs, though they’re all pretty good.

Next stop, opera.


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