Japanese master drummer Takeo Moriyama returns to BBE Music’s J Jazz Masterclass Series in a majestic live set showcasing his exemplary musicianship and stature as one of the leading names in Japanese modern jazz. Recorded in December 1990 at the jazz club Lovely in Nagoya, this set sees Moriyama’s quartet deliver an exemplary session of the finest modal, post-bop and spiritual jazz.
Moriyama is backed by long-time colleague Fumio Itabashi on piano and the group perform a stunning rendition of Itabashi’s classic ‘Watarase’, revisiting the track they first recorded on Moriyama’s 1981 ‘Smile’ album. Demonstrating his range as a composer, Itabashi penned four of the five tracks on this album. ‘Live at Lovely’ also features regular bassist Hideaki Mochizuki and tenor saxophonist Toshihiko Inoue, who also feature on Moriyama’s ‘East Plants’ album, previously reissued in the J Jazz Masterclass Series. The quartet’s communication and interplay are revelatory, each player listening closely and finding their own space within the richly textured music. The album opens with ‘Sunrise’, a blast of blistering unrestrained post-bop, with Toshihiko Inoue’s strident horn motif and Itabashi’s commanding piano underpinned by Hideaki Mochizuki’s thunderous bass and Moriyama’s relentlessly authoritative and expressive drumming.
On ‘Exchange’, another Itabashi composition, the quartet up the energy level even further, pushing to the edge of free jazz but maintaining enough structure to keep it together as they race headlong into a 20 minute epic that leaves the listener as out of breath as the band. Every track on ‘Live at Lovely’ stands by themselves, but taken together, it’s an extraordinary listening experience that demonstrates the calibre of the Japanese jazz players who emerged in the 1970s and who, like Moriyama and Itabashi, continue to perform today. This special double vinyl edition is mastered by the Grammy-nominated Carvery and is the first ever reissue since the album’s original Japan only CD release in 1991 and comes with a translation of the original notes plus a new sleeve note by Tony Higgins.