Saturday, August 30, 2014
Koji Tamaki -- Family （ファミリー）
In September 1996, Koji Tamaki（玉置浩二）released his 5th solo album away from Anzen Chitai（安全地帯）, "Cafe Japan". At first thought, the title sounded like the name for the perfect place for Japanophiles to congregate with lots of matcha ice cream, Hello Kitty dolls and Gundam figures. However, the album was Tamaki's way of inviting the listener into his world of blues, jazz and mellow pop. It also had "Den'en"（田園）, his huge galloping hit from that year.
The first track set quite the tone. "Family", which was written and composed by Tamaki (and arranged by his ex-wife, Satoko Ando), starts off in what sounds like the last minute before showtime in an intimate after-hours nightclub starring the man himself. Then, he launches into a slow and sweet swinging jazz ballad with a synth big band as his backup before he brings it all home with a crescendo into "LOVE!" I wouldn't have minded being there in the audience.
In the liner notes for "Cafe Japan", it mentions that "Family" is a tribute to the late jazz drummer, singer and actor Frankie Sakai（フランキー堺）who passed away that year. I didn't know anything about his prowess on the drums but I remembered watching a comedy starring him, and he had quite the burlesque sense of humour. And for people on my side of the Pacific of a certain age, he was known in the dramatization of the James Clavell novel, "Shogun" as the ultimately treacherous Lord Yabu when it was broadcast in 1980 on NBC.