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Watarase

A 7 track jazz piano album (47m 8s) — released April 5th 2024 on Wewantsounds

Born in 1949 in Tochigi, Fumio Itabashi studied piano at the renowned Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo, where Joe Hisaishi also studied. After finishing his studies,he quickly began recording as a session player for Japanese heavyweights such as Sadao Watanabe (making his recording debut on Watanabe's 1972 self-titled album), Terumasa Hino and Kohsuke Mine before recording his first album as a leader - accompanied by his trio - with the album "Toh" released by Frasco Record in 1976.

After releasing a Live album "Jumping Board" for the label ALM in 1977, Itabashi signed with Nippon Columbia's fledgling sub-label Better Days releasing the album "Nature" in 1979, which showcased his versatile playing.

In October 1981, Itabashi entered Nippon Columbia's Studio 1 to digitally record a new album using Denon's PCM digital recorder as a follow up to "Nature." The album, called "Watarase" was cut in just two days and feature Itabashi on solo piano, playing a couple of standards ("Someday My Prince Will Come" and "I Can't Get Started") and four originals plus "Msunduza", a Dollar Brand composition from 1975.

The album highlights the pianist's dazzling technique oscillating between energetic passages as on "Msunduza" and more serene ones as heard on "Someday My Prince Will Come." The high point of the album is undoubtedly its title track, "Watarase" which has become a favourite on the International Jazz scene over the years. Paul Bowler, in the liner notes, draws comparisons between Itabashi's and Pharoah Sanders' playing, noting that they both "possess a similar open-hearted blend of spiritualism, passionate intensity and melodic beauty."

"Watarase" was never widely available outside of Japan (with only a limited edition in 2018). Wewantsounds is therefore delighted to bring this classic back in circulation, newly remastered in Tokyo by Nippon Columbia for all Japanese jazz lovers to enjoy.

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