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If Pimp Master sounds like anything that came before it, it sounds like Sonny Clark's Cool Struttin'but performed by a group of late twentysomething Tokyo musicians who attack the tunes like they've ingested enough speed to affect the outcome of the Superbowl. And they don't fucking care if you know it.
Welcome to gonzo-hard bop. It's fast, it's rowdy and it's in-your-face. On one level it's pure revivalismthe tunes are in the main cranked up hard bop riffs, simple and derivative (most of them lifted wholesale from 1950s' Blue Note albums, including Clark's 1958 classic). The musicians were first brought together in 2000 by Schacho (that's him shouting enouragement and giving up the chants from time to time), who wanted a band to augment the DJs at club nights he organised.
Pimp Master has massive energy and a commendable delinquent attitude, and for both those reasons it's worth listening to. But something more creative is going on, too. Despite all the rock & roll attitude, Soil & Pimp Sessions are all really fine jazz musiciansskilled on their instruments and versed in the tradition, but crucially, not overly reverential about it.
In Motoharu (saxophones) and Josei (piano, B3 on two tracks) the band has two original and exciting improvising talents. Motaharu plays with savage, vocalised abandonan on-fire cross between Jackie McLean and Albert Ayler. Josei is more measured, but no less commanding, dropping Cecil Taylor starbursts onto an otherwise earthy Clark/McCoy Tyner groove.
Most of the tunes are originals, and the only track which doesn't get near the Richter scale is "Mo Better Blues." Even Bacharach & David's "Wives And Lovers" gets pimped.
Soil & Pimp Sessions were originally known as Soil & Hemp Sessions. The band changed its name in 2003, when the use of Hemp resulted in a tour of Singapore being banned. Happily, the sense of decorum and good citizenship the group brought to its re-christening extends to the music it plays.
Pimp Master was released in Japan last year, and has now come to the UK on jazz-dance DJ Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label. A new album is threatened for the autumn.
Track Listing: Pimp Master Intro; No Taboo; Filter Interlude; Suffocation; Stinger; Waltz For Goddess; Avalanche; A Wheel Within A Wheel; J.D.F.; Low Life; No Matter; Mo Better Blues; Wasted Time; Master Of Pimp; Hirameku Yaiba; Fuller Love; Wives & Lovers.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.