Tokyo teen trash
Who exactly is behind the Maniakku Beat label is anyone's guess, but they've assembled a killer collection of fuzzed-up and freaked-out Japanese psych, punk and goofy rock 'n' roll for their wildly entertaining Go-Go Group Sounds Japan 1965-1969 disc.
Not having to bother with the usual licensing red tape and tracking down master tapes has given the mysterious compiler a free hand to include the koo-koo kraziest 7-inch sides from popular GS bands like the Spiders, Mops, Tempters, Carnabeats and the amazing Bunnys (featuring guitar god Takeshi Terauchi) as well as lesser-known acts like Jackey Yoshikawa and His Blue Comets, the White Kicks, Mustang and the Lind and Linders.
It's rare to come across a comp with a song by the largely overlooked Zoo Nee Voo, and unfortunately there's no information included about the artists, but I'm still making Highway Nokodo Ku my new theme song.
Unbeknownst to Jay Dee, while the Detroit hiphop producer extraordinaire was crafting his solo masterpiece for MCA back in 2002, the label was in the process of being absorbed by Geffen, to whom Dilla meant squat. Instead of sitting around wishing and hoping, our man went to work bangin' out the rawest joints of his career - mostly for his own SUV-bumping pleasure - which wound up on the limited-run self-released but long gone Ruff Draft EP.
With the blessing of Dilla's mom, "Ma Dukes" Yancey, Stones Throw is making that nasty Ruff Draft material available again, neatly packaged with extra tracks and a second disc of instrumentals that reveals the missing steps between Common's Electric Circus and Jaylib's Champion Sound, also slated for reissue May 22 with bonus b-sides, remixes and instros.
Exciting modern jazz improvisation might not be what immediately comes to mind when you think of Romania, but the Jazzanova DJ crew hope to change that with Romanian Jazz (Sonar Kollektiv), their latest archival compilation of recordings released by the state-owned Electrecord label between 1966 and 1978.
The 10-track set could actually be subtitled The Music Of Pianist Johnny Raducanu, Scat Singer Aura Urziceanu And Friends Who Happened To Record In Romania, namely Italian-born pianist Guido Manusardi (from Chiavenna), who, along with the University of Illinois Jazz Orchestra (with a very young Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet), deliver the three best tracks of the collection.
It's a bit puzzling why the producers use an image of Ion Bacio Jr.'s piano-playing hands on the sleeve but didn't include a track from his great Electrecord album called Jazz, but it still serves as a great introduction to a largely overlooked but thriving Eastern European scene. www.sonarkollektiv.com
Most of the hacks hired by labels on the cheap to write liner notes for their reissues don't have any first-hand knowledge of the recordings, nor do they bother to track down any of the principal players to get the story straight. So what you often read is cobbled together from hearsay, old notes and articles written by people just as clueless from a prior generation. Thankfully, someone at Concord - which now owns Milestone - had the good sense to ask former label boss and producer Orrin Keepnews to contribute his informed personal insights to the notes for the great new Keepnews Collection series of Milestone label 24-bit reissues of catalogue classics. That's particularly helpful in the case of Joe Henderson's Power To The People, because the saxophone great was always a very private person who revealed precious little about his past to journalists. Keepnews, who knew him as well as any producer could, besides being intimately involved in the sessions, puts the music in proper historical perspective in a way that many serious jazz fans will appreciate. Also check out Kenny Dorham's Jazz Contrasts and Wes Montgomery's Full House. www.concordmusicgroup.com.