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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 28 October 2007
An album that is a classic...not in the Miles Davis Kind of Blue kind of way...more in the Keith Jarret Koln Concert kind of way. That is it captures a small moment - a snipet of a large volume of talent, but in this case all written and recorded in early 60's whilst touring Japan. The influence is remarkable. The album is worth getting for just one wonderful track - Fujiyama - which has remained in my Desert Island Discs for four decades now, this is genius saxophonist Paul Desmond at his very best. Here we have 2am saxophone at its most expressive. How Fujiyama has never made it as a movie soundtrack I'll never know...someone out there should listen to it, take it all in, feel the goose bumps and make a beautiful movie sequence around it. Sigh......
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 11 December 2012
This little-known quartet album from pianist/composer Dave Brubeck(1920-2012) was recorded in June, 1964 and inspired by a tour of Japan a few months earlier.
With Brubeck on piano were altoist Paul Desmond, bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello who'd been together since the late 1950s.
Brubeck's teacher, the composer Darius Milhaud, advised him to "travel the world and keep your ears open" which is evident on these 8 memorable Eastern-influenced tracks. Highlights include 'Fujiyama', 'Osaka Blues' & 'The City Is Crying' which features a beautiful alto solo from Paul Desmond.
Despite the short playing time of 35 minutes this is an intriguing and evocative album that deserves a place in any Dave Brubeck collection.
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on 20 February 2004
Dave Brubeck is, in my opinion, a living genius. I have seen him live twice in the last few years and am going again later this year. His most successful album 'Time Out' contains many of his signature tunes that would be instantly recognisable to all, but the man has written an astonishing amount of material beyond these.
The tracks on this album may not be amongst his signature tunes, but are arguably a better sign of his genius. Taking inspiration from oriental sounds and tunes, Dave Brubeck writes brilliant, accessible American Jazz with a definite Eastern flavour. The tracks complement each other brilliantly too, the opening Tokyo Traffic and Toki's Theme for instance are full of catchy melodies and rhythmic vitality (I particularly like the pitched, rhythmic sounds that play the melody alongside the piano in Tokyo Traffic), but are surrounded by more atmospheric pieces.
A superb album, an encaptivating and enjoyable listen, and a superb demonstration of Jazz that can be enjoyed by the mainstream as well as the jazz connoisseur.
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on 17 October 2008
I first listened to this music on my father's original vinyl, when I was a child. Over the years, I've since bought my own copy of the vinyl as well as the CD. I'm not going to get into any technical sound differences as they're not really material to me in this instance. The music is variously haunting and uplifting, and it will certainly transport you to another time and place when you sit and listen to it. And it does deserve quiet sitting and listening, if it's the first time you've heard it. If you can read music and are so inclined, hunting out a piano transcription and reading (or even playing along, if you're talented!) as you listen is quite a fun exercise.
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on 2 April 2013
Following in the steps of his Jazz Impressions of... occasional series, is this one inspired by a concert tour to Japan in 1964. Once derided as being too `popular' to be a real `jazz' musician, Dave Brubeck is now in his rightful place at the very pinnacle of the music. What made Brubeck unique was the way he pushed the boundaries of the music forward without ever compromising the jazz idiom.
I was fortunate enough to hear him live when he toured 40 odd years ago and again a couple of times in recent years at Leicester when he returned for his final tours before age and ill health prevented any further visits.
I already have CDs of his Jazz Impressions of the USA, New York and Eurasia albums (among 40 Brubeck CDs) and after hearing this I have put `Bravo Brubeck', impressions from his time in Mexico, on my wish list for Father's Day. Hearing this record you want to hear more.
Brubeck, who sadly died at the end of 2012, was a unique talent and here he manages to blend the sounds and feelings of Japan into the jazz idiom. The tunes give you a very definite flavour of the land, people and culture, but without sacrificing any of the jazz feel. It may not be one of his very finest records, but it is still exceedingly good indeed. It is the sort of album you can sit and listen to, or simply put on as background music.
The track listings are:
Tokyo Traffic
Rising Sun
Toki's Theme
Zen is When
The City is Crying
Osaka Blues
Koto Song
After playing it several times my favourite tracks are probably Tokyo Traffic, Fujiyama and The City is Crying although the standard is very consistent throughout.
The quartet is the `classic' line up of Brubeck (piano), Paul Desmond (alto sax), Eugene Wright (bass) and Joe Morello (drums). Paul Desmond was one of the most articulate alto players ever and he and Brubeck were the perfect foil for each other. The rhythm section must be one of the finest partnerships of all time and after Brubeck got through numerous bassists and drummers he finally settled with Wright and Morello for very many years.
The playing time at around 35 minutes is quite short, there are no bonus tracks added to the original LP, but the recording is crisp and clear and at under fiver from Amazon it has to be a buy. When you think that 50 years ago LPs were 39/11 (just under £2) you have to say that today they are dirt cheap.
If you like Brubeck, modern jazz or merely want some agreeable music to listen to, at £3.87, which is the price I paid, you simply have to buy this one.
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on 15 July 2012
I bought this (LP) when I was a student at University College, London and thus I wasn't flush with money.

I was lucky enough to hear it in one of the sound booths that good record shops had in those days (beat headphones in the open shopfloor any time) and the first track (Tokyo Traffic) and even the first few seconds of it just overwhelmed me and I had to have it (after of course checking track two as well which was a complete contrast.)

Luckily it was on sale which is why I was listening to it in the first place of course (and indeed was the reason why it was in the window and why I went into the shop at all)

If you can try it out first, do so, but for me this is my favourite Brubeck CD after Time Out and before Time Further Out. (Yes, I now have the CD).
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With seventeen reviews already I shall keep this brief. Firstly this IS as wonderful album and when it was released way back in 1964 it was a MASTERPIECE of innovative impressionistic jazz. It remains fresh to this day. I can only disagree with the curmugeons who have given this album slightly negative reviews. Whether grading it on its 1964 impact, or as an album in 2014, fifty years on, it is top rate. One of Brubecks best albums and there are many to compete with.
This is the "classic" quartet playing seven tunes written Brubeck and recorded in 1964 plus one track "Zen Is When" written by Freeman and Pober and recorded in 1960.
Captures the essence of the Orient perfectly. If you want another album in similar vein try Horace Silver's "The Tokyo Blues" and for something a bit more adventurous Don Ellis' "Electric Bath".
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on 10 July 2012
I usually buy CDs from Amazon when I want the whole album, but when I saw the price I was particularly pleased. One of the most underrated Brubeck albums for under a fiver? Yes please.

From the dizzying spin of Tokyo Traffic to the sombre Fujiyama, this has it all. There's even an extract in the book telling you the inspiration behind each song during Brubeck's tour of Japan back in the 60s. This album puts you right in the middle of his experiences.
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on 31 January 2013
Beautiful, beautiful jazz. Apart from the extrmeely high standard which can be expected form all works by the late great Dave Brubeck quartet, and superb playing by Paul Desmond in particular, the "japan" theme lifted it to a higher level, and made for a great atmosphere. I love this album. Dsepite not still being pressed, I got this from amazon via the seller moviemars-usa, at a very reasonable price, immaculate, and with quick delivery.
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on 26 April 2013
replacement for lost vinyl. My mother was persuaded many years ago by my husband to listen to this album. She had previously been scathing about modern music of any description but became convinced after hearing it that my husband may, just possibly on this one occasion, to be nearly correct.
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