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Toshiyuki Miyama & His New Herd / Masahiko Satoh - Yamataifu CD (album) cover


Toshiyuki Miyama & His New Herd / Masahiko Satoh

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars The strongest collaboration between a Japanese Jazz Giant (Toshiyuki MIYAMA) and a Japanese freely-improvised Avantgarde Jazz establisher (Masahiko SATOH) in 1972, could win a honourable "Geijutsusai Yushu Prize", much appreciated in the whole Japanese Art world. Since Greg (Logan) recommended this album to me, I've checked NEW HERD's stuffs via YouTube or MP3 websites, and felt NEW HERD (without Masahiko SATOH) have been (even now) a great Japanese 'big-band' Jazz band in this scene and played chiefly contemporary / nu-jazz, not with enough Avantgarde essence. Big big influence by Masahiko SATOH, they could be injected into themselves I'm sure. As previously mentioned, Masahiko made a great success of his album "Amalgamation" (1971) all around the world (especially in Europe), and very naturally his motivation and attitude for free improvisation could invade into pure nu-jazz tower built by Toshiyuki's NEW HERD, just in the album "Yamataifu".

Basically Toshiyuki is an alt saxophone player so we can feel the enormous power via their saxophone plays. Wonderful echoic sax dream, based on deep and heavy bass and drums. Fully drenched with bulky Nippon (Japanese) native flavour and tension, freely improvised instrumental battles go ahead inorganically ... but magnificent passion of each player we can feel ... obviously, even with spiritual or ghostly explosion here and there. Believe me, not simply traditional Japanese Avantgarde Jazz, but with full of nationalism and eccentricity in such a powerful big band. Over 35 minutes we cannot feel anymore but this palpitation. Feel directly this Japanese pride.

Again thanks Greg for your brilliant recommendation. We Japanese are very happy everyone all around the world can enjoy their fascinating stuff.

Report this review (#351477)
Posted Monday, December 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Yamataifu is the only release of collaboration between renowned Japanese big band MIYAMA TOSHIYUKI & HIS NEW HERD and one of the very first avant-jazz pianist Masahiko Satoh. Masahiko studied jazz in Berklee and returned to Japan in late 60 full of new music ideas. His releases of early 70-s are extremely experimental and innovative. In 1971 he released "Amalgamation" - excellent album, one of cornerstone of Japanese prog avant. Same year he participated on debut album of another later well-known Japanese fusion artist Matsush'ta (unhappily, this album, being very experimental, didn't succeed too much).

Yamataifu contains only two long compositions, played in manner of psychedelic Davis period or Hancock's Mwandishi trilogy influenced. Complex, with many rhythm changes, plenty of free form soloing and very spacey atmosphere, this album is one of real evidences how Japanese progressive fusion was born. More dark, psychedelic and avant than Davis or Hancock's work's, this album is as important in Japanese prog legacy Mwandishi or electric Davis period in Western world.

Very interesting listening till nowadays, this album is must have for everyone with interest to Japanese progressive fusion and avant. Very recommended!

Report this review (#352365)
Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
4 stars Floating soil and the phone booth

"What a wild beast!" was the first thought that ran through my head upon listening to this album. Holy moly! What we've got here is equal measures imaginative big band leanings and ferocious fusion layers that never quite spell out jazz rock yet come very close. The splicing of famous jazz cats on Yamataifu is equally impressive as it is baffling - consisting of the famous Japanese big band conductor Toshiyuki Miyama, who at the time of this recording was 52(!), and the well renowned pianist Masahiko Satoh who went on to become one of Japan's most influential players.

Starting off with an ominous whiff of horns - a brooding dark wave of droning winds, Yamataifu reveals an unearthly musical presence - making this listener feel as if he was swimming through slush ice soil, upwards and away on grainy droopy sandpaper wings. The stagnant floating earth starts rumbling in tiny jitters as small rhythmic splashes dipper dapper their way into the mix. Immeasurable sounds suddenly emanate from way in the back and there's no telling whether we're treated to guitars, synths or the local back alley cat trying to push it's way through the mouth piece of a bassoon. It builds up slowly and the younger audiences will probably write it off as proto post rock with trinkets of insatiable whirlwind effects and bubbling energies.......but this is so much more - a blast from the past! A calculated storm in your skull.

Soon the jazz beat commences - the doouab shidioouuii babab bidouiuuoii badahh badaah and everything disintegrates - in all directions no less. Furious piano sprints, bopping bass lines and oddly played horn sections that threaten to overtake the airspace of mosquitoes and all those critters who fancy their flying adventures to be square and angular.

This is essentially avantguarde jazz with a big bootful of grooves. Add to that an uncanny way about spacey infusions such as sequencers, atonal wind instruments and frantically played Santana-like percussion. The whole thing feels like it's happening on a dime - on a cloud somewhere high above the earth, where musicians come to whack out and fill themselves with psychedelic plants, irreverent books and hip females who adore the strangeness of it all.

Take a bit of 'Atlantis' era Sun Ra, a dash of Mwandishi sorcery, a pinch of Miles and a teeny tiny touch of ayahuasca and you're nearly there. Again relegating just exactly how this sounds and moreover feels is rather like fitting a dinosaur into a phone booth. There's no room and one of those things is increasingly hard to get a hold of these days. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#1133519)
Posted Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars I was going to give this 4.5 stars like Guldbamsen but that second track "NI" just blows my mind. Just to back up a bit this is the project of Japan's own Toshiyuki Miyama but Masahiki Satoh gets equal billing on the album cover. Satoh is an Avant legend in Japan one of the originals and he plays electric piano and arranged the music here. He should get a medal for the latter. This is played live with Miyama conducting the music which is his only role here but so important as you can hear when you listen to this masterpiece. Back to "NI" and man it's so experimental but it's unlike anything I have ever heard. Man again I have to backup because this is Experimental Big Band music and I need to let you know that there are 18 musicians playing on here, on the stage. And 13 of them play horns. We also get this insane drummer, he's unbelievable. Also bass, electric piano, guitar and another pianist. The thing with "NI" is how thick the atmosphere is at times, suffocating with all these experimental sounds and the way it's arranged is mind boggling. I thought of "Bitches Brew" mostly for the trumpet blasts. This is one song I can't describe.

The opener "ICHI" is over 19 minutes in length and those blasting horns in melancholy are incredible. This song is such a trip and the electric piano kills. Not to mention again this overly talented drummer. The horns though give me goosebumps. Another one that has to be heard. I actually thought of NUCLEUS when I heard that last track "SAN" with that melancholic atmosphere and trumpet blasts. Jazzy bass to start with drums and electric piano. Uptempo and lights out playing, especially the drummer. Then the horns kick in with that NUCLEUS sound. It's almost overwhelming all these sounds like they've been thrown in a blender but it works!

A special release if there ever was one, and one the Japan music scene should be proud of. Did I mention this was released back in 1972?

Report this review (#2494775)
Posted Saturday, January 16, 2021 | Review Permalink


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