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7 Jul 2017

Jimmy, Yoko & Shin "Sei Shonagon"1978 Japan Jazz Rock






Jimmy, Yoko & Shin  "Sei Shonagon"1978 mega rare Japan Jazz Rock

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This is a mega rare Japanese jazz rock.,never released as CD.
It was released as self- indipendent prodiction.
And only this album was released as this trio.
Yoko is a female jazz keyboard player .
And her playing reminds me of Dave Sinclair(ex-Caravan) strongly.
I think this is an excellent Japanese Canterbery-vein album.Moreover,their sound adds Japanese traditional chaos,so their originality got higher and higher.
Sometimes they sing ...the lyrics is from Japanese classical literature. .....ProgNotFrog.............

What a misleading cover! It looks more like the late 60s or early 70s of the last century, suggests psychedelic pop, or any Japanese hit. This would be extremely wrong.

Jimmy, Yoko & Shin were Jimmy Shironaga (bass, guitar), Yoko Sumiya (keys) and Shin Okabe (percussion). The trio can not be found much more (at least without Japanese knowledge). Apparently, the formation won an event called "Japan Jazz Grand Prix" in the second half of the last century (at least recorded on the OBI of Orignal-LPs). In 1978, "Sei Shonagon" was released as the only album of the group, on the Label Three Blind Mice, with the above cover. In 2013, the very rare vinyl material was re-released on CD in Japan.

The label Three Blind Mice was actually known for pure jazz productions. Apparently, one has only made an exception twice. The one was the recently reviewed album "Air" by Yuji Imamura. The second was "Sei Shonagon". The trio, performed by the keyboardist Yoko Sumiya (who also composed the music), plays an extensive keyboard jazz prog, determined by Sumiyas keyboards (piano, electric piano and synthesizer), and pre-drifted by bass and drums. The comparison with Emerson, Lake & Palmer offers itself, but does not really matter, the three Japanese are more playful, jazzy and restrained. Symphonic fullness and bombast are sought in vain.

Rather, the music sounds like Canterbury, after Soft Machine for "Four" (without Sax) or Egg. The trio around Dave Stewart would probably be the most appropriate comparison, even if Yoko Sumiya rarely serves an organ. The music radiates a distinctly Asian-Japanese atmosphere, on the one hand due to various, repeatedly emerging melody lines, which sound at least as far eastern as for the recommender, on the other hand due to the different vocal impressions. All three protagonists make their voices sound and produce (for European ears) quite odd-sounding, worn-mysterious vocal lines that seem to be taken from Shinto rituals or ancient Japanese folk songs and evoke certain memories of some zealous solosimonies.

The three musicians are very virtuosic and playful, all sorts of filigree key lines are blended with growling-fast bass lines and the wary drums. In "Gion Shoja", Jimmy Shironaga also uses an acoustic guitar, accompanied by plaintive chants, all sorts of synthesizer noises, and pearling e-pianosounds. The final "Soul Soran" is quite rocking, offering a bizarre, underscored synth sounds, quite desolate Japan soul prog, determined by the wild interplay of piano, bass and drums. Too bad the disk is already over.

"Sei Shonagon" is a very original subject which breathes the spirit of the early 1970s rather than the one of the year of its birth in 1978. Those who appreciate classic Proggy, which is contaminated with jazz, can imagine this with a very own Japanese (voice) component (Especially fans of Zeuhl singing should feel addressed), this should be an entertaining album!......by.....Achim Breiling...........

 A very obscure album that I never even heard of until about 3 years ago. Disc Union's Think!, the same label behind the Genshi Kyodotai reissue, has come to the rescue again. I believe Three Blind Mice is under the Sony brand now and this is a co-release. Absolutely fantastic sound and it really opened up the album for me. The CD comes in the now standard paper/cardboard miniature LP sleeve. Also features the original booklet insert. A fantastic reissue.

American buyers: Like with many of the really obscure Japanese releases, it's always worth a look over at Dusty Groove to see if they're carrying it. That's where I bought mine. It's not cheap, but worth it considering it will likely go OOP very quickly and shoot up in price.

 Even though Jimmy, Yoko and Shin are on the cult underground Japanese jazz label Three Blind Mice, their sole album is square-on progressive rock. There are 3 long tracks that are as much informed by ELP as they are by the Japanese freaky underground of Rock Joint Biwa and George Hirota. The latter groups are more evident in the indigenous vocal led sections. And occasionally they catch a toe-tapping groove with organ and piano jamming on top. To be truthful, there really is no other album like it, and as such it's truly a rare gem. It's a grower for sure.....................

The only record of the Japanese trio led by jazz pianist Yoko Sumiya. The entire first side is occupied by the title track, which is an elegant yet dynamic jazz rock with leading parts of a piano or an organ. Very unusual is the fragment in which the music is replaced by almost a capella singing. More surprisingly, the ancient Japanese verses are sung in a vocal style, which is somewhere between bel canto and the Gregorian church tradition, that is, in a completely non-Japanese way. The next track, which occupies almost the entire second side, can be attributed to canterbury - it is a full-fledged progressive with an electric guitar and a hammond (which will be replaced by a sonorous electric piano), but at the same time clearly experiencing the influence of jazz. Completes all three-minute fusion number, which is the processing of traditional dance melodies, performed at Japanese festivals, which, frankly, without knowing, is unlikely to guess. A good record, and it would be nice to re-release it, especially since the company Three Blind Mice with some of its vinyl archives has already done it.......

Line-up:
Jimmy Shironaga — acoustic guitar, electric bass, vocals
Yoko Sumiya — Steinway piano, Yamaha electric piano, Yamaha organ, Yamaha synthesizer, Minimoog, vocals
Shin Okabe — drums, Moog-drum, congas, bongos, wood blocks, Minimoog, various percussion, vocals

Tracklist
A Sein Shonagon
Written-By – Yoko Sumiya
18:42
B1 Gion Shoja
Written-By – Yoko Sumiya
13:25
B2 Soul Soran
Arranged By – Yoko Sumiya
3:04 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..