Japanese musicians. It's nice to report that not only was this a good idea, but so was the outcome. This is an exciting session that will keep your toe tapping and heart thumping throughout the entire 70 minutes of music. All but one of the compositions are by Bobby Watson"Ms. B.C." was written by Pamela Watson--- some of which he wrote during his tour with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Appreciating the dynamics of the group is vital to appreciating what they are doing. The mood swings in some of the tunes are breathtaking. Listen to "Long Way Home" where Watson's dissonant fast paced alto playing seques into a lovely ballad backed by the soulful sounds of the big band. One wonders why this song isn't in the repertoire of more of today's modern big bands. In Case You Missed It" is played with an intensive high voltage energy that recalls Count Basie's high-flying outfit of the early 1970's. There's some very good Carl Fontana like trombone solo by Masahiko Kitahara and an upper atmosphere trumpet coda to end the tune. The other soloists on this set are similarly outstanding like Kose Kikuchi's swinging flute on "Karita."
Not only is the ensemble and section playing and solo work by the members of the band a strong indication of just how far Japanese jazz musicians have advanced, but the fact that they can sustain the listener interest in a piece of music that runs for more than 15 minutes reveals just how versatile and imaginative their playing has become. Their prowess also allows them to smashingly respond to Bobby Watson's demanding arrangements and alto. This set is modern big band music at its best and is highly recommended!
Track Listing: Dual Conversation; Ms B.C.; Karita; Long Way Home; Unfold; In Case You Missed It