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.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Hidefumi Toki -- Speak Low

I may have missed a golden opportunity of sorts by not doing a Father's Day or a Mother's Day special here on "Kayo Kyoku Plus". After all, there have been several examples of double generations of artists in the Japanese music industry such as Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)and her daughter Sayaka Kanda(神田沙也加), singer/saxophonist Ayaka Hirahara(平原綾香)and her father, fellow sax player Makoto Hirahara(平原まこと), and then folk singer Ryoko Moriyama(森山良子)and her son Naotaro(森山直太朗).

Well, I just completed an article on Asako Toki's(土岐麻子)album "Ranhansha Girl"(乱反射ガール)earlier this morning, and while doing so, I found out that her father is veteran jazz saxophonist, Hidefumi Toki(土岐英史). Hailing from Kobe, he specializes in the alto and soprano saxophones and has played in the jazz, fusion and R&B genres. After leaving the Osaka College of Music, he joined up with jazz bassist Isao Suzuki's(鈴木勲)group and other bands in the early 1970s before releasing his first solo album "TOKI" in 1975. Even more notably, he, along with keyboardist Toru Tsuzuki(続木徹)and guitarist Junshi Yamagishi(山岸潤史)formed the jazz/fusion band Chickenshack in 1985; sad to say, although I've already written a few articles on the group and even mentioned the main players in the first article, I never made the connection between Asako Toki and her father. Another notable fact is that Toki was a part of Tatsuro Yamashita's(山下達郎)concert tours between 1977 and 2011.

In 1978, Toki released his 2nd album "City" and the first track is "Speak Low", a jazz standard that made its debut in the Broadway musical "One Touch of Venus" back in 1943 and has since become popularized via singers and instrumentalists alike according to its Wikipedia article. I'm not even going to pretend that I'm anywhere near the level of a sage jazz critic, and I will simply say that Toki's "Speak Low" speaks to me as a cordial invitation to a classy bar in one of those skyscrapers of New York City which I think is where the cover of "City" was shot. As of 2016, Toki has released 10 albums.

For comparison's sake, you can listen to Sarah Vaughan's version from 1958 and then have a listen to John Coltrane's version with the Sonny Clark Sextet.

There's even a Speak Low cocktail! To finish off, I've been listening to the rest of Toki's "City" as I type this down and it's been a fine accompaniment as cool music on a hot day in my darkened room.

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