I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hiroko Kokubu -- Moon Island

As much as I (and the other contributors) for this blog have shown our love for Showa and Heisei era pop music, the other genre that I finally got into during my years in Japan was jazz. Along with the enka records that my parents played on the Victor, there were also a number of standards that flowed through the ancient speakers by folks like Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Ann Margret, and jazz has been a genre whose songs have always managed to peek through the media even when the airwaves were filled with rock, disco and then New Wave during my formative years.

The first jazz CD (after finally getting bitten by the jazz bug) I bought was at a Virgin Records (now defunct) megastore in East Shinjuku in the late 90s, and it was a generic disc of pianist Bill Evans' best material like "Waltz for Debby". After that, the floodgates opened up and I started to buy my share of jazz albums to complement my purchases of J-Pop/kayo kyoku stuff. So it was only a matter of time before the genres would mesh and I would also check out some of the examples of J-Jazz.

However, almost a decade before I started embracing my inner Count, Duke and Louis, I had actually already dipped my toe into the water by purchasing a CD by jazz pianist Hiroko Kokubu (国府弘子)during the Gunma years. I don't exactly remember what precipitated the purchase but I think it was probably because I had heard the nimble fingers of the Tokyo native fly over the keys while I was in one of the music stores and was intrigued enough to give the disc a go.

Titled "Light and Colour", the Latin-flavoured album was Kokubu's 4th in May 1991 and one of the tracks I've remembered all these years is the one through the link above, "Moon Island". Her playing there is as light and limber as young folks trying to avoid the surf as they run across Copacabana Beach. I'd consider it fine for Sunday morning or early afternoon listening while noshing on that brunch.

As for further information on Kokubu, you can check out her website in which is an English-language profile on the pianist-composer.

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