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DJAMRA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Japan


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Djamra biography
Djamra, formed in Osaka, Japan, by the key player and a bassist Masaharu Nakakita, gave the first shout in 1994. They could grow up every year playing around lots of shows and see the moonshine with the eponymous debut mini-album in 2000. Their musical style is exactly complex mixture of rock, jazz, avantgarde and Naniwan beat. Shinji Kitamura (saxophone) plays on DJAMRA from their early days and Akihiro Enomoto (drums and percussions) joined the outfit in 2001. Polishing their brilliant skill and originality could led them to the debut on POSEIDON/MUSEA Records and the release of the second album "Transplantation" in 2003.

For releasing "Kamihitoe" (2006), their third work, they auditioned two talented musicians; Akira Ishikawa (guitars) and Takehiro Fukuda (keyboards). They now can get more powerful, more worldwide, and more foolish! (Anyway, in Osaka, "AHO" (fool in English) is a respectful word.)

In late 2011 Akira left DJAMRA but they've been active on stage, with a new female trumpetter Sayaka KAWADA who joined in mid 2011.

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Circle Of CircusCircle Of Circus
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Djamra
Audio CD$29.99
KamihitoeKamihitoe
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Musea 2006
Audio CD$16.56
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DJAMRA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DJAMRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Djamra
1999
2.76 | 9 ratings
Transplantation
2003
4.32 | 12 ratings
Kamihitoe
2006
4.05 | 2 ratings
Circle Of Circus
2010

DJAMRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
14 Faces Vol 1
2003
2.95 | 2 ratings
Under Trucks - Live At Vi-Code
2014

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DJAMRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Under Trucks - Live At Vi-Code by DJAMRA album cover Live, 2014
2.95 | 2 ratings

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Under Trucks - Live At Vi-Code
Djamra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych / Avant / Neo Teams

3 stars What a fantastic gig with lots of pleasure.

This live album "Under Trucks" was recorded upon November 10, 2013 in an Osakan live venue called Nakatsu Vi-Code (on the stage another Heavy Prog outfit The Brown appeared ... sadly I could not attend though). And one of highly important matters is that this live album was the debut one for a female trumpeter and the specialty Sayaka KAWADA, actually. As Masaharu NAKAKITA (bass) always says, they play much pleasantly and delightfully "for the audience", naturally as artists. This gig got started, with lively audience's voices around the artists. Various gemmy essence of their brilliant sound can be heard here and there although their performance on stage sounds not perfect. Surprisingly mixing this album is splendid, as though we would join this gig and Djamrers would play in front of us. Very amazing indeed.

Sayaka's trumpet sounds relaxed and stretched ... it's obviously natural because she's been a member of Djamra for almost 3 years (she says she's always got strained on stage even now lol). Her instrumental battles with Shinji KITAMURA (alto saxophone) are worth listening to every time really. These battles should make us smile fully, along with her safe and sound appearance. However her play is always exciting, of course in this live lively album too.

The tracks, except the fourth "Phantom Thief Naitoh-san (Kaitoh Naitoh-san)", are well- known for us who usually attend their gigs. All of them sound very vivid and speedy as well, and we cannot avoid feeling their strong intention as professional musicians. They would have shouted on stage "We play and you listen, enjoy!". That's it. Oh don't forget about the fourth (newer) track titled "Phantom Thief Naitoh-san" ... this song is played as the title track of a midnight TV theatre "not on the air yet (lol)" about a phantom thief only midnight (and a taxi driver in the daytime). Kaleidoscopic developments in this song proclaim his activity as a hermit obscurity. The audience would get immersed in such a colourful theatrical draw.

In conclusion, we should go to a venue and listen to their gig directly if we can. But this live album should be one of strategies for some fans who cannot join the gig. Without any suspicion we can consider it's a fantastic album, recommended.

Hey Masaharu, do hope you will distribute worldwide, not only in live venues.

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 14 Faces Vol 1 by DJAMRA album cover Live, 2003
3.00 | 1 ratings

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14 Faces Vol 1
Djamra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars This appears to be the first four of 14 tracks recorded at fandango in May last year. Djamra are a four piece comprising drums, bass, trumpet and sax. The word of the day is jazz, and these guys can certainly play. This is uncompromising material, with all four willing to take the lead when required, although it is usually left to the brass musicians playing as one to define the mood. The real problem with this album is the quality of the recording. Although it isn't as poor as a bootleg it does leave a lot to be desired so some of the undoubted force of this music is lost. But if you enjoy jazz that is definitely at the limits then this is for you ? the musicianship and interaction is incredible. www.musicterm.jp/poseidon/.

Originally appeared in Feedback #79, June 2004

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 Transplantation by DJAMRA album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.76 | 9 ratings

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Transplantation
Djamra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars This is an instrumental album by a band with a somewhat unusual line-up (drums, bass, alt sax, trumpet). With a group like that there is only one place to go, and that is jazz. That they do so with so much finesse and style is a credit. The drums fairly drive the music along but they are for the most part the under-stated part of the group, and while the bass plays behind the melody there are sections where it takes the lead. Of course it is the two brass instruments that can be seen to be taking the band on their musical journey but there are times when they themselves are quiet so that the others can be heard, with the bass taking a much more important focus with some different styles of playing.

This isn't music for the faint-hearted conservative, as this is trying to push boundaries so that they are often avant-garde as well as bringing in some more standard progressive tones. It will not be to everyone's tastes but this is a record that I have enjoyed playing a great deal and will be again.

Originally appeared in Feedback #78, April 2004

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 Kamihitoe by DJAMRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.32 | 12 ratings

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Kamihitoe
Djamra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars The title of the album references the difference between genius and madness, 'KAMI' means paper and 'Hitoe' means a very little difference, so it is the thickness of a sheet of paper. This is the third album from this instrumental quintet (guitar, bass, keys, sax, drums) and there are times when all five of them are on exactly the same wavelength and others when they are all pushing forward to front to try and wrest control of the songs from others. But, and this is a huge but, there is always a great deal of control so even if the sax is going off like crazy during the title song he is straight back in with the others at exactly the right moment. There is the feeling that the music is very carefully constructed with an agreement for one or the other to go mad for a set number of bars but that they have to be able to drop right back into the theme at the right moment.

Although this is very much jazz based the guitar is far more from the rock area, much more metallic, but this definitely doesn't come across as lightweight fusion. It is possible to view the band's site in English (something unusual for Japanese bands) at www.djamra.com and also listen to samples and I feel that this is one act that does benefit from hearing first. But if you like inventive progressive jazz then this is one of the most interesting releases from Poseidon. www.poseidon.jp

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 Transplantation by DJAMRA album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.76 | 9 ratings

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Transplantation
Djamra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

1 stars Although known the last few years Japanese Jazz/RIO progsters Djamra have been around since mid-90's,when bassist Masaharu Nakakita formed the band in Osaka.The band actually performed as a quintet and released an eponymous demo in 1999.The new decade found the band as a quartet of bass/drums/trumpet/sax.In 2003 they release both a live and a studio album.''14 Faces Vol 1'' was a short document of the band's live energy,released on the Poseidon-related Vital Records and ''Transplantation'' was Djamra's official debut,released on Poseidon and distributed by Musea.

The general style of the band incorporates elements from Jazz,Horn Rock and RIO.There are also elements from Balkan and Eastern Music to be found.This daring mix offers some good moments at a few times,but the album suffers from the lack of even a trace of melody,harmony or atmosphere,who will set the listener into its mood.The technique of the band is undoubtful,but actually this is the main problem as well.Too much soloing leads into an explosion of freaky,noisy musicianship,which becomes unbearable with every listening.The meaning of composition is totally sacrificed in the name of endless improvisation.Trumpet and sax dominate the album and are too high in the mix,buring any interesting ideas by the bass player,who is actually quite good.The final result is an abstract summary of sounds trying to be correctly set in my head,but the only thing I got is a light headache...

The musicians of this act are really skilled,no doubt about it.But I wonder where this album heads to.An aggresive,frightening and cloudy soundscape,which is more of a punch in the stomach than a musical experience.Not recommended at all.

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 Transplantation by DJAMRA album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.76 | 9 ratings

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Transplantation
Djamra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Great and crazy Japanese stuff!

The first (and last) time I could attend to the Baja Prog Fest (2008) gave me some great discoveries, there were a couple of bands I didn't know and loved since then; one is Platurno from Chile, and the other is Djamra from Japan. I remember when I saw Djamra's performance I was astonished because their music was great, and also because they really managed to get involved with the audience. I remember they had some masks of Mexican wrestlers and cool clothes.

Since then I've been following their music. Honestly the only album I bought from themselves in that Baja Prog was their 2003 album entitled "Transplantation", which I should have reviewed long time ago. One of the main things that caught my attention was their mixture of jazz/fusion with some avant-garde elements that would make you think whether they belong to the fusion or RIO scene? the answer is simple, they belong to the progressive rock scene.

This album features eleven compositions and a total time of 61 minutes. It kicks off with "Time Flies like an Arrow (2 hones version)" and I bet you will be interested since the very first seconds. Wind instruments appear first, then drums, bass, and seconds later a super bass sound prevails showing the skill of Masaharu Nakatira, their bass player. The track has some different passages, while one may be aggressive, other is soft and calm.

"Channelling" is a short track that resumes the crazy sound of this band. It is like the introduction of "Assassin in Sin" whose drums work by Akihiro Enomoto is brilliant, always in the right place and moment. The song has again some changes, all together working in order to create a cool, and challenging song. I like a lot the bass sound, though it is repetitive it creates some tension and makes you wait for something, for what is coming next. Then the sound of winds (sax and trumpets) are always amazing.

"Neo Skin" comes again with superb bass notes creating a crazy sound which will be almost silenced after a minute, when it slows down and the wind instruments appear with a delicate touch. Then the drums make its spot, showing once again that these are trained and of course, talented musicians. After the second minute there is a part in which you may feel like in the chaos zone, great!

"Mood" starts slowly with bass lines, little by little the other instruments join and begin to create a sophomore and eclectic trip. This song is not like the previous ones, I would say it is not the Djamra sound that we already know, but it shows that they can create different moods, as the title suggests.

"Nest" follows the previous song path at the beginning, the first minute sounds like that, but then it returns to the crazy sax/trumpet sound shown in the first tracks. The track shares different textures and sounds, once again they took their "different passages" formula because you can listen the craziness first and the softness later, or vice versa. That combination is cool, though in moments it could turn repetitive: warning.

A second part of the CD could be found in this track "Time Flies like an Arrow (3 hones version)" which is like an alternate version of the first song of the album, it is peculiar to see they put it here in this moment of the album. The following track is "Hz" whose first minute sounds like an explosion, but later it stops and a new structure is being started. I like how they put and create different colors, nuances and even atmospheres in one single track, you can also appreciate to some weird noises here and there, cool.

"Pliable Clockwork" is another short track, which actually does not show anything new, it can be synthesized as a short version of Djamra's music. "The Cave" starts with bass and drums creating a cool sound. Later a minor silence and some changes in time and tempo, there is a moment after minute three when a chaos is created and an ambient of tension appears, giving the listener elements to feel excited. This is a very good song, well and cleverly composed.

And finally the longest track, a fifteen-minute epic entitled "To India". As the title suggests, the first minutes have that Indian-like sound where you can close your eyes and let the music take you there. A couple of minutes later drums and trumpet appear and a new sound is being little by little created, provoking some tension and nervousness until it totally explodes, and when that happens I can only say "woooow" and have a big smile, total satisfaction has come to me. There is a significant amount of minor changes in this long epic, but all together are the pieces that comprehend this one body, all those pieces are necessary to enjoy the whole track.

Djamra are a band whose music is great to me, and I am really happy to know them and very lucky to have seen them on stage. They are coming to Mexico City in a couple of weeks, and I do hope to see them again. If you are a fan of crazy jazzy and avant-garde stuff, you should try Djamra, you know, Japan has always good music to offer, you won't regret. My final grade will be four stars.

Enjoy it!

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 Circle Of Circus by DJAMRA album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Circle Of Circus
Djamra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych / Avant / Neo Teams

4 stars DJAMRA plays an Osakan Drama.

This "Circle Of Circus" is DJAMRA's fourth album, that can notify me they can create and produce this stuff with more relaxed, and with more objective soundscape ... through this objectiveness we can find them growin' up as performers and simultaneously as Osakan Entertainers ... let me emphasize. Namely, there are some tracks (for example, the sixth "Assasin In Sin", the eighth "Komurakaeri", or the tenth "Nest") rehashed their standard numbers previously released or played, and DJAMRA could "easily and comfortably" play complex and eccentric phrases in all of them. And surprisingly, each and every standard should not be out of harmony with the other songs and this theme "Circle Of Circus" itself. Guess they can clarify the proverb that the Osakan people can reuse and reissue old stuffs most cleverly of all Japanese?

Each song has a definite and obvious appearance for what DJAMRA should try to express. A Pierrot (le fou) or a dancer sometimes walks on the stage, sometimes dances with a tiger, sometimes (always?) gives a joke, and sometimes plays a dangerous stunt ... all matters can be expressed much skillfully, as a very amazing show. I'm sure both the players and the audience (that is, the songs) sometimes laugh out loudly, sometimes cry against danger, and sometimes palpitate, get excited & jump up as though they could be racing drivers. This story may be less "catchy" than the previous album indeed methinks, but should be more fascinating and more united, more refined surely ... based on their attitude for a rock suite I imagine.

I'm much immersed especially in the second track "Pierrot's Foot Goes Into Convulsions" and thirteenth "Civilization". "Pierrot's ? " is the rehash of their repertoire on stage "Nagashiuchi" and amazingly they can play so easily such complex phrases. From the very opening - completely along with the rhythm section by Masaharu & Akihiro - Akira's keen guitar, Takehiro's brilliant keyboard, and Shinji's funky-punky alto saxophone can go ahead aggressively and strictly. Playing a complicated and eccentric tune may give a convulsion to their body indeed, but we can never see a dizzy, fuzzy, or cloudy space in them. They could knock precisely our brain with their serious and steady beats. "Civilization" is the longest, and another masterpiece in this album, that includes relaxation, calmness, massive attacks, laziness, risky performances, and impressive actions ? all of them can be represented with five talented artists' music play and rough-tough breathing. This eleven-minute art is just the highlight of the BIG (Dai) Circus Entertainment, let me say.

And yes, DJAMRA gives expression of "humour" via the whole album, not only a song as in the previous albums. Please enjoy The Osakan Taste fully.

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 Kamihitoe by DJAMRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.32 | 12 ratings

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Kamihitoe
Djamra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Excellent fusion album! Being a fan of Japanese progressive artists, I noticed there are two main streams in Japanese progressive jazz/rock related music from last few decades: some bands (and there were really plenty of them in 80-90-s) play quite competent technically but usually faceless soft fusion, and another are just a brutal hardcore avant.

It's really not very often you can hear well-balanced musically release somewhere in between. Djamra is one of the few band , filling this niche. "Kamihitoe" is their great release,combining very energetic,in tradition of Japanese brutal avant, music with melodic tunes, very complex musicianship, but very jazzy, never too much dissonant or chaotic.

In fact, music of this album is real modern fusion, based on best European traditions, but very full-bodied,tasty,with light courage of Japanese avant in it!Kitamura's sax is everywhere and gives to whole sound very Elton Dean-like feel. Acoustic piano adds post-bop jazz tradition, but at the same time there are many of modern electronic keyboards. Energetic field comes from heavy fusion , some pieces sound almost as heavy metal (being absolutely jazzy at the same time). Bass is deep and very groovy. Rhythms and tempos are changing similar times during each composition, but there are not even traces of chaos ! Music is mostly improvised, but it sounds as pre-composed one! Free jazz sax over the top of many compositions is a last spice which makes this dish a gourmet one.

Possibly one of the best Japanese modern fusion release from last decade. My rating is 4,5,rounded to 5.

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 Kamihitoe by DJAMRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.32 | 12 ratings

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Kamihitoe
Djamra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych / Avant / Neo Teams

4 stars Active, aggressive, avantgarde and after all aholish explosion they can give us!

Exactly their third work Kamihitoe is a wonderful chandelier united with their musical brilliancy. They can push strongly their rock flavour rather than jazzy one. Therefore DJAMRA's play is heavier and more aggressive than of another jazz-rock band. The first part or the last one of Alha-Ha has laidback sounds (and they can play naturally and with relaxed), with some avantgarde and eccentricity in the middle part. This musical offense should be their style I consider.

The song formed with their favourable essence (heavy, jazzy, funky, aggressive but serious and strict) is the first track Kamihitoe (in English "Close to the edge"?), their masterpiece. After the spacey opening, all instruments can attack us heavily...the sounds of a bass and drums & percussion are very steady, strict, and ease our mind. On the contrary, saxophone, keyboard, and guitar sounds are very aggressive, eccentric, and violent and rampant (great!). The latter ones can play much with improvised, over the strict rhythm section. In fact the point is that the improvised instruments cannot play wonderfully without the rhythm section, a steady basis.

And the song we can feel the bass & percussion terrific is the second track New Bound. Please listen to the first half. The serious battle with Masaharu and Akihiro is beyond words. We can feel very happy only to hear the battle. On it, in the latter half, a loud saxophone and a heavy guitar join. Suddenly, in the quiet world, eccentric piano sound freeze us. We, completely frozen, will be hit and blown by all of them at last. LOL.

Furthermore, can you pay attention to the song 94k2? 94k2 - KUSHIKATSU - in English, a broiled cutlet on a skewer - is a local special food in Osaka. Various ingredients, sources, and tastes can come one after another aggressively...with loud voices of the shopmaster. This dirty atmosphere and oily flavour we Osakan feel very GOOD...not kidding! Oh, the last is a dessert - FRIED ICE CREAM! hahhaha!

The word "mixture" or "toy box" can remarkably match DJAMRA's style and policy. We cannot imagine what should pop up from the "toy box" until the end.

Ah...well...the last track's title Ahonoko is very good! Who is ahonoko (a fool)? DJAMRA? We listeners? No, both! Crazy, eccentric, and funky, funny sounds can be very comfortable for us fools. Yes, Aho is the greatest! Thank you DJAMRA for your fantastic gems to us foolish fans. Please laugh out loudly!

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