By E. Taylor Atkins

Japan’s jazz community—both musicians and audience—has been begrudgingly well-known within the usa for its expertise, wisdom, and point of appreciation. Underpinning this tentative admiration, in spite of the fact that, has been a tacit contract that, for cultural purposes, eastern jazz “can’t swing.” In Blue Nippon E. Taylor Atkins exhibits how, surprisingly, Japan’s personal angle towards jazz is based in this related ambivalence approximately its authenticity. Engagingly instructed during the voices of many musicians, Blue Nippon explores the real and legit nature of eastern jazz. Atkins friends into Twenties dancehalls to envision the japanese Jazz Age and exhibit the origins of city modernism with its new set of social mores, gender family members, and buyer practices. He indicates how the interwar jazz interval then grew to become a troubling image of Japan’s intimacy with the West—but how, even in the course of the Pacific struggle, the roots of jazz had taken carry too deeply for the “total jazz ban” that a few nationalists wanted. whereas the allied profession used to be a setback within the look for an indigenous jazz sound, jap musicians back sought American validation. Atkins closes out his cultural historical past with an exam of the modern jazz scene that rose up out of Japan’s extraordinary fiscal prominence within the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies yet then leveled off by means of the Nineteen Nineties, as tensions over authenticity and identification persisted.With its depiction of jazz as a reworking worldwide phenomenon, Blue Nippon will make stress-free analyzing not just for jazz lovers world wide but additionally for ethnomusicologists, and scholars of cultural stories, Asian experiences, and modernism.

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The Japanese] treat jazz as a high class art form,’’ drummer Donald ‘‘Duck’’ Bailey has said. ‘‘They know, they really know about jazz. . ’’ Expatriate pianist Tom Pierson also rejects Marsalis’s statement: with a sense of wonderment that years of experience have yet to erase, he tells of Japanese fans who treat him ‘‘like a soccer star’’ and kiss his hands in gratitude for his music. In his autobiography, Miles Davis remembered warmly the reception he received on his first visit to Japan in 1964, in spite of his rather inauspicious entrance: Flying to Japan is a long-ass flight.

Most insist that Japanese have contributed nothing of substance to the music and therefore merit little attention, especially from an American. )∞π However, an alleged failure to meet criteria of ethnic and personal authenticity as defined by Americans is only part of the Japanese jazz artist’s dilemma. Historically speaking, jazz performers and aficionados have also had to answer to another standard of authenticity: that of native Japanese culture itself. From the perspective of the social mainstream, jazz has al28 Blue Nippon ways been and remains not only an alien culture but a paramount example of American cultural imperialism, which actively contributes to the erosion of indigenous social and aesthetic norms.

Quoted in Nat Hento√, The Jazz Life I was born with Eric Dolphy for a father, and Billie Holiday for a mother. So in my alto performances, I must somehow surpass Eric Dolphy. —saxophonist Abe Kaoru, quoted in Morita Y¯uko, Abe Kaoru, 1949–1978 While touring Japan in 1977, some members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago made the following indelicate if not ungracious remarks: ‘‘We have listened to performances by Japanese groups, but they are making music that stands atop Afro-American traditions. ’’ ‘‘Only black people’s music has progressed with the times,’’ the aec musicians continued.

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