George Otsuka Quintet - Loving You George LP
Release Date: March 26th, 2021
Wewantsounds present a first-time reissue of the cult LP by master Japanese drummer George Otsuka and his quintet, recorded live on July, 19th 1975 at the Nemu Jazz Inn. The album was released by cutting-edge Japanese label Bellwood in 1975. The album Loving You George is comprised of four superb performances fueled by Otsuka powerful drumming and Fumio Karashima's fender Rhodes. Otsuka is one of the giants of the Nippon jazz scene. The drummer, who sadly passed away in 2020, enjoyed a 50-year career recording with the best musicians and labels in Japan. Otsuka joined Sadao Watanabe's Cosy Quartet in the late fifties before switching to Hidehiko Matsumoto's quartet where he gained exposure as one of Japan's premier drummers. In the mid-60s, he formed his own trio with Hideo Ichikawa (piano) and Masaoki Terakawa (bass) recording several highly-acclaimed albums and also playing with international stars such as Hampton Hawes and Roy Haynes.
The '70s were a productive decade and Otsuka embraced the latest development in jazz including fusion and modal jazz enthusiastically. The musician signed with Koki Miura's groundbreaking Bellwood Records (responsible for producing Haruomi Hosono and the emergent wave of folk rock artists led by Happy End) and recorded a live album at Nemu Jazz Inn in the Nemu resort, south of Nagoya. The evening was a special one. On top of The George Otsuka quintet (featuring Mitsuaki Furuno, Norio Ohno, Shozo Sasaki, and Fumio Karashima), were the supergroup of Norman Connors, Eddie Henderson, and Gary Bartz who were also recording a live album, Dance Of Magic, that has since become legendary. On the night, Otsuka and his sidemen recorded four tracks including "Little Island" a Karashima original and "Something Everywhere" a faithful rendition of Steve Kuhn Brazilian-flavored original which had just appeared on his ECM album Trance. The second side begins with a breathtaking version of the Coltrane standard "Miles Mode" finishing with a great drum solo by Otsuka followed by a superb version of the Minnie Riperton classic, "Loving You" played in a mid-tempo funky mode with a great Rhodes solo. Loving You George is a vivid testimony that Otsuka and his musicians were at the top of their game.