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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Naniwa Express -- Charcoal Break

Well with this pandemic, Canadians will be approaching what will be the most unusual national holiday stint they've ever experienced but with restrictions slowly and carefully being lifted, I think the good old-fashioned barbeque can still take place (although the season of traditional Ribfests is cancelled this year). Because Canada Day tomorrow will be falling on a Wednesday, a lot of folks (including my anime buddy) have managed to tie up the previous weekend with July 1st to create a Canadian equivalent of the Japanese Golden Week. I hope then that all of those families have a delectable BBQ with all of the fixins.

As such, I can perhaps introduce something BBQ-related to the blog today with "Charcoal Break", a song by the fusion band Naniwa Express(ナニワエキスプレス)from their 1984 album "Modern Beat". I've never written about this group so it's great to have them over on the blog alongside acts such as T-Square and Casiopeia.

"Modern Beat" is smooth sailing as saxophonist and jazz pianist Makoto Aoyagi(青柳誠)and guitarist Kazuhiko Iwami(岩見和彦) takes us on the most relaxing and lowest-altitude magic carpet ride. In a way, it's reminiscent of Tomoko Aran's(亜蘭智子)"Slow Nights" which came out in the same year. Not sure if this would be something that one would hear at a picnic with the Coleman grill in operation, but "Modern Beat" can make for some fine accompaniment over drinks at that seaside bar while the sun is going down.

Along with the two members mentioned, Naniwa Express also has Kenji Nakamura(中村建治)on keyboards, Ko Shimizu(清水興)on bass, and Rikiya Higashihara(東原力哉)on drums. The band had its initial run between 1977 and 1986 before getting together now and then going into the 21st century. Including their BEST compilations and live recordings, the band has released 13 albums up to 2012.


  1. Hello J-Canuck,

    Hey, this is good. I looked up their stuff and they seem way ahead of the curve. Yeah, Naniwa Express has those jazz fusion roots but I think this band should be recognized as a progenitor of what would be known as the smooth jazz genre that would take shape in later decades.

    I get the old Spyro Gyra and early Hiroshima vibes from this band during the same time period.

    I immediately started looking for their earlier albums and saw that a lot of it is OOP (out of print). And the prices being asked for old copies are crazy!

    Unless you get the 30th anniversary best of compilation you're going to have to pony up a lot of money.

    Ah, but there's always Youtube.

    And speaking of fusion, it’s funny because I’ve been in a Naoya Matsuoka (and Wesing) rabbit hole for the past couple of weeks. These bands just sound like summer!

    And yes, I did go back and read your articles regarding those guys too…


    1. Morning, Chasing Showa!

      Yeah, Spyro Gyra...that's a blast from the past along with Hiroshima and "One Wish".

      The first time I ever heard of Smooth Jazz was when I went through the Tower Records in Shibuya...just saw some compilation CDs being sold on the first floor and decided to buy one. Although it hasn't been a heavy rotation disc, the tracks have been pleasant.

      Although I think after several years, the remastering of old CDs has probably tailed off, I'm hoping that the obscure guys such as Naniwa Express will get their due with their original albums. But there is still their BEST album and as you've mentioned YouTube.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.