Just to give my greetings on this holiday Monday: Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada, Happy Columbus Day to all those in the United States and Happy Sports Day to the citizens of Japan. For the record, we didn't have any turkey in our household...just some fish n' chips.
Anyways, I've been learning with the advent of Google Maps, potential tourists have been able to prep for any upcoming trips by taking a virtual tour of the destination in foreign lands before they actually do the real thing. I am not planning to go anywhere in the near future, but I have been curious about a lot of these cities so I've also been doing the virtual tour thing. One night last week, I was taking a Google tour of Miami, Florida and as I was doing so, I was simply playing New J Channel and the song of the moment was from an album that I've seen from time to time there. It's titled "Bananafish" by the trio PAZZ and was originally released in 1987.
Aside from the manga with the same title that had been turned into an anime last year, I'd never heard anything about a "Bananafish". But I'll tell you...doing that tour of downtown Miami while listening to one of the tracks, "Distance", I got that rare thrill of ASMR going up my back and neck. That was a huge sign that perhaps this oddly-named album may be worth a hunt for Xmas shopping.
There is no J-Wiki article for PAZZ or "Bananafish". However, there is an article for former member and singer-composer Masayuki Iwata（岩田雅之）. Originally from Aichi Prefecture, that's his heavenly voice on the dreamy "Distance", a mix of bossa nova and soul. With him creating the melody, his two other partners in PAZZ were vocalist Miho Fujiwara（藤原美穂）, formerly of Chocolate Lips, and fellow composer Tatsuya Nishiwaki（西脇辰弥）who also worked with Iwata on the keyboards and computer programming. Although Fujiwara was a veteran, PAZZ was the debut deal for both Iwata and Nishiwaki. The lyricist for "Distance" was Ichiko Takehana（竹花いち子）.
"Empty Heart" is another Iwata and Takehana collaboration which is a nice slice of smooth contemporary funk/soul. Listening to Iwata here and on "Distance", I think that there is a slight vocal resemblance to Michael McDonald and 80s singer Zappacosta. I can really feel the Los Angeles connection here.
One more track that I will show is "Can't You See My Love", once again by Takehana and Iwata, a romantic ballad that truly made my virtual tour among the huge shiny skyscrapers of Miami very worthwhile. Iwata doesn't sound anything like Chikuzen Sato（佐藤竹善）but the whole feeling behind this one reminds me of what Sing Like Talking would also be creating later on. Always love those creamy horns.
Looking at the Japanese overview of the album at Technology Pops 𝝅3.14, PAZZ was backed up by some solid musicians such as Makoto Matsushita（松下誠）, Jun Aoyama（青山純）and Jake H. Concepcion. As I said before, I would love to get my hands on this one and only album by the band. Post-PAZZ, Iwata would create songs for a number of other singers such as SMAP, Mariko Takahashi（高橋真梨子）and Harumi Tsuyuzaki（露崎春女）, although he would also release a solo album in 2000.