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Tokyo based band and Afrobayashi pioneers Ajate are back with their third album: experience the explosive encounter of Afro groove and Japanese traditional Ohayashi music!

During a stay in West Africa in the late 2000's, Japanese musician Junichiro "John" Imaeda was taken aback by the similarities he felt between the Afrobeat that resonated in the streets of Accra, and the sounds of the "Ohayashi", the music played during ancestral Japanese festivals, in which John had participated since his childhood.

On his return to the archipelago in 2009, Imaeda created Ajate, a collective of ten passionate musicians. Together they started crafting music that moves from one world to another, with intertwined roots. The drums, flutes and bells are joined by curious instruments handmade by John himself with the essential material of the Japanese countryside: bamboo. The "Jaate", an amplified xylophone-balafon equipped with piezoelectric sensors on each of its keys, or the "Piechiku", a bamboo version of the Malian "Ngoni" or the Gnawa "Guembri", equipped with shamisen strings and connected to an arsenal of guitar pedals, give Ajate an absolutely unique sound. Powerful and catchy Japanese female and male vocals bring the final touch to an incredible groove where Afrobeat and Ohayashi music are woven together so seamlessly that Ajate has managed to capture a truly distinct fusion. The band sings about the power of human connections, the force of being and living all together, the joy of sharing, and the beauty of life. Ajate's music is a magnificent example of the way sounds are able to migrate in contemporary music.

The band's explosive live performances have taken Ajate to the most prestigious stages in Japan, such as the Sukiyaki Meets The World and Fuji & Sun festivals. The release on French label 180g of their "Abrada" and "Alo" albums, in 2017 and 2020 respectively, opened the doors to Europe, with memorable shows at the Transmusicales de Rennes festival - followed by a session on KEXP (Seattle, USA) - at Jazz a Vienne, and at WOMAD UK, among many others. With their brand new album "Dala Toni", Ajate prove once again that they are at the forefront of global music "made in Japan".

TRACK LISTING

1. Waya Yawa
2. Iduchihemo
3. Nagi Yoni
4. Kopi Lakanka
5. Roghinaware

Various Artists

WAMONO A To Z Vol. I - Japanese Jazz Funk & Rare Groove 1968-1980 (Selected By DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite & Chintam)

Active as a professional DJ in Japan since the late eighties, DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite is also a renowned remixer, compiler and producer. An avid record collector and an expert of the Wamono style, Yoshizawa published the Wamono A to Z records guide book in 2015 which instantly sold-out. The book unveiled a myriad of beautiful and rare records from a highly prolific, but still then unknown, Japanese groove scene.

After many years working as a record buyer for several stores, DJ Chintam opened his own Blow Up shop in 2018 in Tokyo's Shibuya district. A member of the Dayjam Crew and a specialist of soul, funk, rare groove and disco music, Chintam is also an expert of the home-brewed Wamono grooves. He supervised and wrote the Wamono A to Z records guide book together with Yoshizawa.

With this first volume of the Wamono series, our two DJs here guide you through some of the best and rarest jazz funk and rare groove tunes produced in Japan between 1968 and 1980. Put the needle on the record, turn up the volume and dig right now into the Wamono sound - the cream of the Japanese funk, soul, rare groove and disco music developed throughout the years since the end of the sixties in Japan!

TRACK LISTING

1. Toshiko Yonekawa - Soran Bushi
2. Takeo Yamashita - A Touch Of Japanese Tone
3. Tadaaki Misago & Tokyo Cuban Boys - Jongara Reggae
4. Chikara Ueda & The Power Station - Cloudy
5. Chumei Watanabe - Downtown Blues
6. Kifu Mitsuhashi - Hanagasa Ondo
7. Monica Lassen & The Sounds - Incitation
8. Norio Maeda Jiro Inagaki & The All-Stars - Go Go A Go Go
9. Akira Ishikawa & The Jazz Rock Band - The Sidewinder
10. Masahiko Sato Jiro Inagaki & Big Soul Media - Sniper's Snooze

Various Artists

WAMONO A To Z Vol. II - Japanese Funk 1970-1977 (Selected By DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite & Chintam)

Active as a professional DJ in Japan since the late eighties, DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite is also a renowned remixer, compiler and producer. An avid record collector and an expert of the Wamono style, Yoshizawa published the Wamono A to Z records guide book in 2015 which instantly sold-out. The book unveiled a myriad of beautiful and rare records from a highly prolific, but still then unknown, Japanese groove scene.

After many years working as a record buyer for several stores, DJ Chintam opened his own Blow Up shop in 2018 in Tokyo's Shibuya district. A member of the Dayjam Crew and a specialist of soul, funk, rare groove and disco music, Chintam is also an expert of the home-brewed Wamono grooves. He supervised and wrote the Wamono A to Z records guide book together with Yoshizawa.

In this second volume of the acclaimed Wamono series, Yoshizawa and Chintam dig into some of the best and rarest funky tunes produced in Japan during the seventies. Put the needle on the record, turn up the volume and dig right now into the Wamono sound - the cream of the Japanese jazz, funk, soul, rare groove and disco music developed throughout the years since the end of the sixties in Japan!

TRACK LISTING

1. Mieko Hirota - Theme Of "Doberman Cop"
2. Hiroshi Sato - Bad Junky Blues
3. Sammy With Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media - The In-And-Outer-Stomp-And-Shouter
4. Fujio Tokita - Watashi No Beatles
5. School Band - I Hope It's Fine
6. Bread & Butter - Devil Woman
7. Hatsumi Shibata - Singer Lady
8. Kan Mikami - Jikokeno No Samba
9. Akira Yasuda & Beat Folk - Yumura No Obaba
1.0 Pinky Chicks - Tosetsu Donpan Bushi

Minoru "Hoodoo" Fushimi's most wanted and impossible to find first album Thanatos Of Funk is finally reissued for the first time ever, in collaboration with Fushimi himself. Thanatos Of Funk is a milestone in Japan's underground music and electro funk/early hip hop history. Entirely self-produced, designed and distributed in 1985 by Fushimi, a high-school teacher by day and music experimenter by night, Thanatos Of Funk is a love-letter to counter-culture, DIY, drum machines and synthesizers blent with some killer shamisen and guitar playing. This is truly unique music. The LP, re-mastered and cut at the Timmion Cutting Lab, comes with the original hand-written comic by Fushimi, with English translations. Essential!

TRACK LISTING

1. Thanatopsis
2. In Praise Of Mitochondria
3. Shinzō-San
4. It Isn't Because Of Hemoglobin
5. Hensachi-Sama
6. Foxy Lady
7. Gal's Blues
8. Panda Steak
9. Disco Thesis
10. Dompan (Private Funk)

Various Artists

Wamono Disco - Nippon Columbia Disco & Boogie Hits 1978-1982

In the mid-seventies, discotheques were booming in Tokyo and all over Japan. When the Fatback Band topped the 1975 US charts with their infectious "Do The Bus Stop" hit, Japanese label Victor put out the following year the first Japan made Disco tune with "Sexy Bus Stop", released under the mysterious name Dr. Dragon & Oriental Express, a pseudonym for successful Japanese pop composer Kyohei Tsutsumi. "Sexy Bus Stop" became an instant hit in the country and, taking this opportunity, various Japanese record companies started releasing Disco music. From 1976 until the early 1980s the music was often recorded by skilled studio musicians, rather than by computer input, providing a really solid sound to the dancefloor. Disco music was also spreading into TV series, commercials and anime. From Godiego's monster hit "The Birth Of The Odyssey - Monkey Magic" to Pink Parachute's obscure (and excellent!) "Disco Great Tokyo" tune, this selection explores some of the finest Disco and Boogie music released on the legendary Nippon Columbia label in the late seventies and early eighties. Are you ready? Put your dance shoes on, and enjoy!

TRACK LISTING

1. Godiego - The Birth Of The Odyssey - Monkey Magic
2. Ikue Sakakibara - This Is Hot
3. Soul Media - I Will Give You Samba
4. Hatsumi Shibata - Purple Shadow
5. Yumi Murata - Krishna
6. Yoshito Machida・Godiego - Ame Wa Knife No Yo Sa
7. Pink Parachute - Disco Great Tokyo
8 Hatsumi Shibata - Hazumi De Daite (A Woman In A Man's World)
.

Various Artists

WaJazz Legends: Jiro Inagaki - Selected By Yusuke Ogawa (Universounds)

Universounds, HMV Record Shop and 180g team up for an exceptional release in their highly acclaimed WaJazz series, to be out on Jiro Inagaki's 90th birthday, October 3rd, 2023, celebrating the life and music of one of the most iconic Japanese jazz musicians of the last 60+ years. This is the ultimate collection of music from legendary saxophone player Jiro Inagaki and his Soul Media band, covering their 1968-1980 golden age, releasing as a spectacular gold vinyl double LP with extensive and detailed liner notes by Universounds' Yusuke Ogawa, comments by Jiro Inagaki, and exclusive pics. 16 tracks of pure gold music spanning jazz, jazz-funk and jazz-rock, including an unreleased version of the track "Express" — first time on vinyl!

Yusuke Ogawa has been running the Universounds store in Tokyo since 2001, specializing in jazz and second-hand, rare, and collector records. He is also a reissue supervisor, label manager, DJ, and music writer. Known for his vast musical knowledge, eye for detail, and archival skills, Ogawa has worked on more than 250 reissues and compilations – including the highly praised Deep Jazz Reality and Project Re:Vinyl series. He is the co-author of the Wa-Jazz Disc Guide and the Independent Black Jazz of America books.

TRACK LISTING

1. Jiro Inagaki & His Soul Media - Head Rock
2. Jiro Inagaki & Big Soul Media With Masahiko Sato - Sniper's Snooze
3. Jiro Inagaki & His Soul Media With Yasushi Sawada - Inanome
4. Soul Media - Breeze
5. Jiro Inagaki & Soul Big Media - Freedom Jazz Dance
6. Jiro Inagaki & Big Soul Media With Hiromasa Suzuki - By The Red Stream
7. Jiro Inagaki & His Soul Media - Back Off Boogaloo
8. Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media - Theme
9. Jiro Inagaki & His Soul Media - Twenty One
10. Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media Featuring Sammy - Wandering Birds
11. Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media - That's How I Feel
12. Soul Media - Memory Lane
13. Jiro Inagaki & The All-Stars With Norio Maeda - Barock
14. Jiro Inagaki & Big Soul Media With Masahiko Sato - Guru
15. Soul Media - Painted Paradise
16. Jiro Inagaki & His Friends - Express (No SE Version)

Various Artists

WaJazz: Japanese Jazz Spectacle Vol.II - Deep, Heavy And Beautiful Jazz From Japan 1962-1985 - The King Records Masters - Selected By Yusuke Ogawa (Universounds)

"It is my great pleasure to introduce you to the second volume of the "Japanese Jazz Spectacle" series. Following the first compilation which focused on recordings from the Nippon Columbia catalog, this time we are digging into the King Records archives. It is almost impossible to capture the whole picture of Wa-Jazz in a couple of compilation albums since it is such a broad and deep genre, however, by extracting tracks from the Nippon Columbia and King Records collections - both labels having an extensive archive of jazz music - we may be able to glimpse a part of its allure and essence. This time again, I have made the music selection with this idea in mind. The music in this compilation was recorded between 1962 and 1985 and is a brief history of Japanese jazz on King Records. Listening is believing, so I hope these tracks will capture your heart and that you will enjoy the charms of Japanese jazz." - Yusuke Ogawa

Yusuke Ogawa has been running the Universounds store in Tokyo since 2001, specializing in jazz and second-hand, rare, and collector records. He is also a reissue supervisor, label manager, DJ, and music writer. Known for his vast musical knowledge, eye for detail, and archival skills, Ogawa has worked on more than 250 reissues and compilations – including the highly praised Deep Jazz Reality and Project Re:Vinyl series. He is the co-author of the Wa-Jazz Disc Guide and the Independent Black Jazz of America books.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Another winning set from WaJazz, shining a light on Japan's King Records across two decades. Ranging from wild honk to louche lounge and dazzling jazz-funk; it's a supreme collection for any lover of the genre.

TRACK LISTING

1. Toshiaki Yokota & The Beat Generation - Clair Deluge
2. Tadao Sawai & Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd Orchestra - Constant Rain
3. Akira Miyazawa - Yamame
4. Various Artists - Ma Mère L'Oye
5. Masao Yagi - Blossom In The Water
6. Masahiko Togashi & Isao Suzuki - A Day Of The Sun
7. Yasuko Nagamine & Yasuaki Shimizu - Summer Wind
8. Hideo Shiraki - Sayonara Blues
9. Masahiko Togashi & His Improvisation Jazz Orchestra - Desireless
10. Takeru Muraoka & His New Group - Lady Boogie
11. Yoshio Ikeda - Down To The Sea
12. George Otsuka Quintet - Loving You

Various Artists

WaJazz: Japanese Jazz Spectacle Vol. I - Deep, Heavy And Beautiful Jazz From Japan 1968-1984

Universounds, HMV Record Shop and 180g team up for an exceptional release: from blazing hard bop to free jazz, to introspective saxophone solos and massive big band sounds, renowned Japanese jazz expert Yusuke Ogawa presents an essential 14 track collection of "WaJazz" music taken from the Nippon Columbia vaults. Featuring Jiro Inagaki, Minoru Muraoka, Hiroshi Suzuki, Hozan Yamamoto, Count Buffalo, Takeshi Inomata, and much more!

"Japanese jazz has been recognized and celebrated by music lovers worldwide for decades. The origins of this trend may be traced back to the rare groove movement that flourished in the 1990s, but its current deep and wide popularity seems to be connected to the fact that Japanese people have been reevaluating their own jazz since the mid-2000s, locally referred to as WaJazz ("Wa" meaning Japan but also theShōwa emperor period, from 1926 to 1989). Since the beginning of the 2000s, there has been a growing trend to move away from the DJ-focused perspective and to appreciate jazz with a deeper understanding. Nowadays, there is more and more interest in the background and roots in which jazz has developed in Japan, with Japanese jazz as a whole now considered as its own distinctive genre.

Of course, even if we speak about "WaJazz" as one genre, there is a truly wide variety of styles within it. However, when Japanese musicians play, there is something uniquely Japanese flowing through that creates a kind of synergy. It may be the melody, the rhythm, or even something deeper, like an inexpressible flicker. I would be happy if some of its charms and secrets emerge from the fourteen tracks included in this collection." (Yusuke Ogawa)

Yusuke Ogawa has been running the Universounds store in Tokyo since 2001, specializing in jazz and second-hand, rare, and collector records. He is also a reissue supervisor, label manager, DJ, and music writer. Known for his vast musical knowledge, eye for detail, and archival skills, Ogawa has worked on more than 250 reissues and compilations – including the highly praised Deep Jazz Reality and Project Re:Vinyl series. He is the co-author of the Wa-Jazz Disc Guide and the Independent Black Jazz of America books.

TRACK LISTING

1. Tadaaki Misago & Tokyo Cuban Boys - Sakura Sakura
2. Minoru Muraoka With New Jazz Players - Muraiki
3. Count Buffalo &The Jazz Rock Band - Mago-Uta
4. Kiyoshi Sugimoto Quartet - D-51
5. Toshiyuki Miyama & The New Herd - Adult's Day
6. Soul Media - Breeze
7. George Otsuka - Sea View
8. Hozan Yamamoto, Masahiko Togashi & Yosuke Yamashita - Breath Prologue
9. Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media - Do It!
10. Hiroshi Suzuki - Romance
11. Masahiko Sato - Tochi Mo Kurumi Mo Fukiotose
12. Masahiko Togashi - Fourth Expression
13. Takeshi Inomata & Sound Ltd. - Mustache (Live)
14. Takeo Moriyama - Watarase

Born in 1932 in Tokyo, Kiyoshi Yamaya started his musical career in 1953 when he played in various jazz bands in town. In 1957, Yamaya joined Nobuo Hara's famous jazz big band Sharps & Flats as a baritone saxophone player and started composing, arranging, and recording for them and other big bands. He became a key jazz figure in Japan in the sixties together with Norio Maeda and Keitaro Miho, both jazz pianists, composers and arrangers, by forming the Modern Jazz Three Association – which aimed at improving the level of Japanese jazz composition and arrangement. In the mid-seventies, his Contemporary Sound Orchestra explored jazz funk fusions with traditional Japanese melodies and instruments such as the shakuhachi, koto, biwa, and shamisen. These works were recorded for a series of panoramic Japanese albums released domestically on Denon and Nippon Columbia, from which the tracks on this compilation are taken from.

Toshiko Yonekawa, born 1913 in the city of Himeji, not so far from Osaka, is the eldest daughter of koto and shamisen master Kin'o Yonekawa. She started studying both instruments with her talented father from the age of 3, played in her first concert at 8, and was only 12 years old when she first appeared on national radio. Her unique style of koto playing is widely recognized due to the extreme accuracy of the intonation and rhythm, as well as the unequaled beauty of the instrument's sonority. After a life decorated with awards and prizes, Toshiko Yonekawa was named a Living National Treasure in 1996.

Born in Tokyo in 1950, Kifu Mitsuhashi is a great master of Koto style shakuhachi. After completing the NHK Hōgaku Training Program in 1972, Mitsuhashi became a member of Pro Musica Nipponia, a group of leading composers and top-ranking musicians devoted to performing a wide-ranging repertoire of classical and contemporary compositions from both Japan and the West – in which all music is performed by traditional Japanese musical instruments. Mitsuhashi has toured the world for hundreds of recitals, also as a soloist, and has performed his art with the greatest ensembles such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2020, Kifu Mitsuhashi was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun.

TRACK LISTING

1. Nanbu Ushioi-Uta (feat. Kifu Mitsuhashi)
2. Isohama Bon-Uta (feat. Toshiko Yonekawa)
3. Hohai-Bushi (feat. Kifu Mitsuhashi)
4. Otemoyan (feat. Toshiko Yonekawa)
5. Aizu Bandaisan (feat. Kifu Mitsuhashi)
6. Saitaro-Bushi (feat. Toshiko Yonekawa)
7. Soma Nagareyama (feat. Kifu Mitsuhashi)
8. Yagi-Bushi (feat. Toshiko Yonekawa)
9. Asadoya Yunta (feat. Kifu Mitsuhashi)
10. Konpira Fune Fune (feat. Toshiko Yonekawa)

Various Artists

WAMONO A To Z Vol. III - Japanese Light Mellow Funk, Disco & Boogie 1978-1988

    Following the highly acclaimed volumes I and II, dig further into the Wamono sound - the cream of the Japanese jazz, funk, soul, rare groove and disco music developed throughout the years since the end of the sixties in Japan!

    Active as a professional DJ in Japan since the late eighties, DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite is also a renowned remixer, compiler and producer. An avid record collector and an expert of the Wamono style, Yoshizawa published the Wamono A to Z records guide book in 2015 which instantly sold-out. The book unveiled a myriad of beautiful and rare records from a highly prolific, but still then unknown, Japanese groove scene.

    After many years working as a record buyer for several stores, DJ Chintam opened his own Blow Up shop in 2018 in Tokyo's Shibuya district. A member of the Dayjam Crew and a specialist of soul, funk, rare groove and disco music, Chintam is also an expert of the home-brewed Wamono grooves. He supervised and wrote the Wamono A to Z records guide book together with Yoshizawa.

    For this third chapter of the acclaimed Wamono series, Yoshizawa and Chintam unheart some of the best and rarest light mellow funk tunes and disco boogie bangers produced in Japan between 1978 and 1988. Put the needle on the record, turn up the volume and dig right now into the Wamono sound - the cream of the Japanese jazz, funk, soul, rare groove and disco music developed throughout the years since the end of the sixties in Japan!

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Tetsuo Sakurai - Kimono
    2. Jadoes - Friday Night (Extended Dance Mix)
    3. Yumi Sato - Ame
    4. Kiyohiko Ozaki - Ojosan Ote Yawaraka Ni
    5. Hitomi Tohyama - Rainy Driver
    6. Sentimental City Romance - Hello Suisei
    7. Mizuki Koyama - Kare Niwa Kanawanai
    8. Hitomi Tohyama - Sweet Soul Music (Kiss Of Life)


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