Fumio Itabashi - Watarase LP
Label: Mule Musiq
Mule Musiq present a reissue of Fumio Itabashi's Watarase, originally released in 1982. French-born English DJ, record label, owner and music collector Gilles Peterson once called Watarase the best jazz record from Japan. Tokyo based Mule Music unearth Watabase, the second solo piano album of the Japanese jazz pianist Fumio Itabashi, remastered from the original recordings.
While diving deep into the seven compositions on Watarese, any sensible listener finds out that the instrumental piano pieces are somehow soulfully connected to what Keith Jarrett plays on his legendary live album The Koln Concert (1975). Like Jarrett, Itabashi does not play his notes in an academic sense. He lets them fly, gives them some kind a life of their own, hits the piano keys deeply emotional and injects his compositions and interpretations some kind of nervous human soul.
In terms of style, some call his Watarase recordings post-bop, others contemporary jazz. Three tunes, the epic "Someday My Prince Will Come" as well as "Msunduza" and "I Can't Get Started", are interpretations of compositions by the US movie score pioneer Frank Churchill, South African pianist Dollar Brand, and Russian-American composer and songwriter Vernon Duke. The other four compositions were written and recorded by Itabashi who started to play the piano when he was eight years old. While studying at the Tokyo-based Kunitachi College Of Music, he fell in love with jazz. In the 1970s he worked with such legendary Japanese jazz musicians such as trumpet player Terumasa Hino, drummer Takeo Moriyama, and saxophonist Sadao Watanabe.
Fumio Itabashi remains a vital part of the Japanese jazz culture as a live performer and film score composer. Watarase will get you hooked by the highly infectious piano gems; they will haunt you, they will come for good, and they will force you to be a good friend with the repeat button. Recorded at Nippon Columbia first studio in Tokyo on October 12th and 13th 1981. Edition of 1000.