Lively and Live
The cover art for this album is a fanciful find, though I recognise one or two of the faces from my ’66 high school yearbook, and its cultural remove from this Japanese jazz band is countered by echoes of traditional 50s/60s jazz forms, like the bop opening to Black Tie, though this soon rises to the frenetic pace of most of the tracks across its two discs. That frenzy is most often conveyed through the driving piano and percussion, but the sax and trumpet breaks are also gloriously lively. A track like Roots of Soul opens with a driving piano/drum duet and is joined by cascading sax and other, the pounding beat taking over to its crescendo and then the piano riff reasserts and a freeform sax solo builds to another peak. Classic enough; brilliantly played. There are more raucous offerings, like third Nothin’ Girl which has a wilder sax break and a found spoken insert – but always within this are pulsing riffs. There are lounge/Latin sounds too, as on Sonido Del Mar, and the overall eclecticism keeps us on our aural toes. Seventh Shout! puts effects on the staccato sax bursts; eleventh Two Naked is even more effects driven on a sax and drum battle [these all on Disc 1]. This is immediately followed by a more laid-back and groovy return to earth with twelfth Spartacus Love Theme. Disc two is more of the excellent same, live, and that would be something to see and hear.