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Funk Tide - Tokyo Jazz-Funk From Electric Bird 1978-87 : Selected By Dj Notoya

A 8 track jazz-funk album (37m 11s) — released March 15th 2024 on Wewantsounds

Japanese Funk expert DJ Notoya is back with a superb selection of Nippon Jazz-Funk picked from the cult label Electric Bird. A sub-label from the venerable Japanese label King Records, Electric Bird was set up in 1977 to cater for the booming Nippon Jazz Funk audience that King - as the Japanese licensee for such US jazz labels at Blue Note or CTI - had grown for years.

Taking advantage of their experience and the many contacts King had garnered through their American partners, Electric Bird, headed by in-house producer Shigeyuki Kawashima, decided to apply the same formula to their new label. As Notoya writes in the liner notes "The US labels' blend of "crossover jazz" - led by such big selling artists like Bob James and Earl Klugh - began to gain a huge following domestically and internationally, King felt the need to get into the arena themselves and start producing fusion jazz recorded by Japanese artists."

Kawashima began signing a new wave of jazz musicians from Japan, putting them in state-of-the-art Tokyo or New York studios and backing them with the best American and Japanese players in order to shape the slick, sun-drenched jazz funk sound that would be Electric Bird's signature sound. With "Funk Tide," DJ Notoya aimed at showcasing the diversity of the label's output, from the funky opener "In The Sky" by Trumpeter Shunzo Ohno (who plays keyboards here) to the sunshine mid-tempo groove of sax player Toshiyuki Honda's "Living in a City" featuring Paulinho Da Costa on perc via Mikio Masuda's Fender Rhodes-infected "Let's Get Together."

Electric Bird also signed a young sax player, Yasuaki Shimizu found here with the soulful "Summer Time" from his album "Far East Express" recorded at Electric Lady Studio in New York in July 1979. For good measure, the label also signed a few well-known American musicians including Ronnie Foster whose "Night Life" has a distinctive 80s funk feel and David Matthews with the Crusaders-esque "Special Delivery" featuring David Sanborn.

One of "Funk Tide's" highlights is certainly Katsutoshi Morizono's "Space Traveller" from 1978, a remake of James Vincent's eponymous cult classic recorded two years before with some of Earth Wind And Fire's musicians and which has since become a favourite on the groove scene. Faithful to Vincent's beautiful laid-back, breezy original, Morizono's rendition add its own spice to it, and ending Notoya's skilled selection of the cutting-edge Electric Bird label on a perfect note.

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