I believe it was at the Monterey Jazz Festival some years ago, when a Japanese Big Band exploded on the scene. A comment was posted somewhere " My God they are doing to our music what they did to our cars". The impact was great, around that time, some wonderful Japanese big bands assaulted our conciousness on imported, beautifully produced and expensive LPs. Then it went quiet. Well, the wound has been opened up by the Tokyo Leaders Big Band with guest alto sax Bobby Watson. In the first instance all the members of the band are band-leaders and new to me.They are playing live at a club called Someday in Tokyo.
To say that this band is assertive is an understatement. Right from the downbeat your attention is grabbed by the explosive nature of the section work. Watson's arrangements are demanding for the musicians but irresistable for the listener. Dual Conversation, the first piece sets the pattern. It is very difficult to work out who is doing what as no solo credits are given. Watson's pyrotechnics leave you in no doubt, the rest can be placed safely under the heading of exceptional.. On Unfold there is a dual to the death by several members of the trumpet section and one, maybe several outstanding trombonists. Actually it is unfair to discriminate. I will, however mention a seemingly young drummer who has the chops of a hardened veteran.
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