*Tip!* The performance by Takayanagi Masayuki New Direction for the Art at the Gen’yasai festival on August 14, 1971 was an intense, bruising collision between the radical, anti-establishment politics of the period in Japan and the febrile avant-garde music that had begun to emerge a few years before. The ferocious performance that you can hear here was received with outright hostility by the audience, who responded first with catcalls and later with showers of debris that were hurled at the performers. Takayanagi though described the group’s performance to jazz magazine Swing Journal as a success, “an authentic and realistic depiction of the situation”.
In 1962, Takayanagi, bassist Kanai Hideto and painter Kageyama Isamu went on to form an AACM-style musicians’ collective called the New Century Music Research Institute. Every Friday, members gathered at Gin-Paris, a chanson bar in the fashionable Ginza district of Tokyo, to push the outer limits of jazz creativity. But the pivotal moment for his music was the creation a new trio version of his New Directions group in August 1969, with the free bassist Yoshizawa Motoharu and a young drummer Toyozumi (Sabu) Yoshisaburō. Experiments eventually led to the creation of two basic frameworks for improvisation that Takayagi referred to as Mass Projection and Gradually Projection.
“La Grima” (tears), the piece that was played at the Gen’yasai festival, is a mass projection and listening to it, you can get a clear sense of what Takayanagi was aiming at. Mass projection involves a dense, speedy and chaotic colouring in of space that destroys the listener’s perception of time, and thus of musical development. The ferocity of the performance of “La Grima” at the Gen’yasai Festival in Sanrizuka on August 14, 1971 was consciously grounded by Takayanagi in a particular historical moment, ripe with conflict and violence. A month after the festival, on September 16, three policemen would die during struggles at the site. This was the context that the three-day Gen’yasai Festival existed within. The line-up reflected the radical politics of the movement, with leading free jazz musicians like Takayanagi, Abe Kaoru, and Takagi Mototeru appearing alongside radical ur-punkers Zuno Keisatsu, heavy electric blues bands like Blues Creation, and Haino Keiji’s scream-jazz unit Lost Aaraaff.