Kyoto Jazz Massive – Spirit of the Sun

Artist: Kyoto Jazz Massive
Title: Spirit of the Sun
Cat No: CPT 114-1 / CPT 114-2
Format: 2-LP / CD / Download

Quotes: Guaranteed to heat up the night. XLR8R / …the album of the year. Plastiks 59 / ..foot-stomping, butt-shaking, sweaty afro-jazz. Jockey Slut

Info: Finally, the long awaited and anticipated Kyoto Jazz Massive debut album “Spirit of the Sun” (Compost Records) is here! One may wonder what took them so long since they have been active in both national and international Jazz-scene for all this time. Precisely, Kyoto Jazz Massive, a unit of two DJ and producer brothers – Shuya Okino & Yoshihiro Okino – produced their first self-titled compilation album in 1994 released by For Life Records, Japan (and in 1999 by 99 Records, Germany.) Up to this day, they have produced and worked on five singles (including Nacel Do Sol, Eclipse and Substream) four compilation albums, and 13 remix works. The timing of the release debut, however, is rather a legitimate progress for the brothers. Undoubtedly “Spirit of the Sun” celebrates marking point of their career accomplishments and sets off the beginning of their new musical journey.

Both Shuya and Yoshihiro Okino began their DJ career the late 80’s in Kyoto. Like so many other Jazz DJs, the Rare Groove movement in London had a great impact on them. During the peak of Acid Jazz, many international DJs and artists performed in Japan. There they met many influential people including, Paul Bradshaw from the UK magazine Straight No Chaser and Gilles Peterson. Their unit name was originated when Gilles had mentioned Shuya and Yoshi in the Chaser article calling them — the “Kyoto Jazz Massive”! The older brother Shuya later moved to Tokyo and managed Monday Michiru and Mondo Grosso. His project of Mondo Grosso’s hit song “Soufflesh” MAW REMIX was epochal connecting Jazz and House music. His commitment to support the Jazz scene in Tokyo as a director and resident DJ for the club, THE ROOM is well-known. In past ten years, he has booked DJs and artists such as United Future Organization, Chari Chari, Jazztronik, Kenny Dope, Patrick Forge, Truby Trio, Jazzanova, Vikter Duplaix, Alex Attias, Makoto and Muro etc… Currently he is involved in many projects and his career varies to wide extent, including the most recent project as a publisher for his bilingual future-jazz free paper magazine called “QUALITY!” which is now distributed worldwide.

While Shuya takes care of things in the East, his younger brother Yoshihiro also dedicates his time and effort to support the Jazz scene in the West – Osaka that it is. He has booked many DJs – Rainer Truby, Jazzanova, Patrick Forge, Da Lata, Joe Davis, Phil Asher, Modaji, Victor Davies just to name a few – to his popular regular event Cool to Kool in Kyoto and Freedom Time in Osaka. Yoshi’s serious record collection and his knowledge of Jazz, Soul and Brazilian later led to the opening of the famous and well distinct store, Especial Records. His admiration of Brazilian music is particularly important in every aspect; evidently, one can find some ultra rare Brazilian records in his store. Many of Kyoto Jazz Massive’s tracks with Bossa and Brazilian beat flavour are undoubtedly related to Yoshi’s taste of music. In the year 2000, he started his own new label Especial Records (same name with the store). Especial has made fans all over the world with its high quality club Jazz music and its 12-inch cover jacket changing colour with every releases. The label has made Sleep Walker and Hajime Yoshizawa’s music possible to be heard worldwide and Yoshihiro continues to discover and release music not only by Japanese but international artists as well, e.g. the most recent release was by Hajime and Chris&Nina’s, “I am with You”.

The sound of Kyoto Jazz Massive is often associated with Jazz Fusion. They were certainly influenced by Japanese Jazz musicians particularly the ones that succeed in the world during 70’s and 80’s, such as Terumasa Hino, Teruo Nakamura, and Ryo Kawasaki. These artists didn’t just play the imported foreign music conservatively but instead they have created their own Jazz identity and were accepted worldwide. They collaborated with artists like Herbie Hancock, Steve Grossman, Lonnie Smith, and Harry Whitaker and embraced other genres of music such as Brazilian, Soul, and Rock to their Jazz. Kyoto Jazz Massive achieves to do the same – to deliver the spirit of Jazz from Japan travelling across the world. The image of Jazz is too overpowering at times where people often picture piano, wood-base, saxophone, drums…and the given image limits to one style of Jazz music. However, it is in the spirit of Jazz where Kyoto Jazz Massive finds freedom and fascinated by its forwardness with time. Jazz has transformed from Swing, Bop, Cool, Funky and Spiritual and it keeps evolving. Witnessing as Jazz fused with Soul, Funk and other ethnic rhythm during the 70’s, Kyoto Jazz Massive tries to cross over Jazz with Techno, House and Broken Beats. On this album “Spirit of the Sun” Kyoto Jazz Massive attempts to carry on the spirits to follow their predecessor who dissolved music barriers and categories. It is hoped that in 30 years the album will still be appreciated, as it should be, since they believe and applied the Jazz principle – its freedom to fuse, collaborate and experiment in order to evolve and create new sounds.

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