AKIRA TOYODA - Benkei (Sound Design, 1984)

Akira Toyoda - Benkei
Sound Design Records Inc - 1342-25
Japan, 1984

A1 Benkei
A2 Walk This Way
A3 Irie
B1 Tommy's Den
B2 Some Other Blues
B3 Double Duty

Akira Toyoda - drums
Joe Lovano - tenor sax, soprano sax
Peter Madsen - piano
Dean Johnson - bass


The name that might immediately be recognized by many contemporary jazz fans from the lineup on this Japanese only 1984 release by drummer Akira Toyoda for the indie label Sound Design is Joe Lovano, which is quite odd being that it's not listed anywhere on Lovano's discography.  In fact, there seems to be virtually no information available at all regarding this lp, except for a mention on bassist Dean Johnson's discography page, marking his very first session as a sideman and, from what I can tell, pianist Peter Madsen's as well.  That this was the start of two fine jazz players career, a document of Lovano's fantastic early work, and perhaps Toyoda's only album (as a leader, or even as sideman?) makes it even more unfortunate there is no information on this session.

Nevertheless, the playing throughout is incredible, showing the energy and creativity of these young players.  Toyoda and Madsen split composition duties, Toyoda contributing 'Benkei' and 'Tommy's Den' and Madsen the rest, with the addition of Coltrane's 'Some Other Blues'.  The playing here serves to document the vibrant jazz scene in Japan that lasted up through the mid-80s that drew American players to visit the land of the rising sun, on other labels such as Why Not, Trio and Baystate.  Moreover, this lp is a fine example of the many phenomenal albums recorded during this period that have yet to be unearthed.  Although Toyoda seems to remain in relative obscurity, he's still active in the jazz scene today, so next time you're in Kyoto look up to see him at the Blue Note, or in Osaka at the Royal Horse.  


SAM SANDERS & VISIONS - The Gift Of Love (That African Lady, 1983)

Sam Sanders & Visions - The Gift of Love
That African Lady - TAL-935
US, 1983
private press

A1 Gift of Love
A2 Slightly Anxious
A3 Day After Yesterday
A4 Un-Stable
B1 Free Fall
B2 Mickey's Tune
B3 Fantasy

Sam Sanders - tenor sax
Michael Zaporski - piano
Ed Pickens - bass
Jon Knust - drums
Kenny Cox - piano

You may recognize Sam Sanders from the 2013 release by 180 Proof Records of a previously unreleased Strata Records date 'Mirror, Mirror' (http://fleamarketfunk.com/2013/08/05/sam-sanders-mirror-mirror/). For most though, this Detroit soul jazz veteran will likely be unknown, and unfortunately so because not only was Sanders a great saxophonist with his own warm and lyrical post bop sound, he was an important fixture of historical significance in the Detroit jazz scene with important Motown and Strata connections.  Jazznation explains, "Sam Sanders and Visions - for many years with bassist Ed Pickens and drummer Jimmy Allen, was known for extremely aggressive post bebop jazz bordering on the Avant garde.  Sanders mainly played the tenor and soprano saxophones, however he would often close his concerts with a signature slow blues on the alto saxophone, revealing his deeply ingrained 'roots' and distinctly Detroit sound" (http://www.jazznation.com/CBP/SamSanders1.html).

In a 1976 article for the Ann Arbor Sun, David Weiss describes, "Sam Sanders is one of Detroit's most precious natural resources... His artful saxophone work has graced the ensembles of Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Smokey Robinson and countless Motown dates'" (http://freeingjohnsinclair.aadl.org/node/201718).  Moreover, Jazznation notes, "Prior to forming Visions, Sanders and trumpeter Marcus Belgrave fronted a band with pianist Harold McKinney called the Creative Profile.  Belgrave and Sanders would continue to perform together, often with Sanders' big band, the Pioneer Orchestra"(http://www.jazznation.com/CBP/SamSanders1.html). Sanders also served as an instructor at both Oakland University and the Detroit Metro Arts complex as well as helping create the Detroit Jazz Center. 

Although most of the sessions with Sanders from the 60s or 70s are either nowhere to be found or still unreleased, 'The Gift of Love' - perhaps the only release of Sanders as a leader during his lifetime and privately pressed by what I presume to be his own label That African Lady - offers a document of this Detroit great's music with his band Visions.  Fellow Strata musician Kenny Cox, who has also gotten a recent release from 180 Proof records, even sits in on keys on a few tracks.  Unfortunately Sanders passed away in 2000, but hopefully the small amount of recordings we do have of him do justice to his musicianship, Visions and the Detroit jazz scene.  Here is a rare video from 1990 of Sanders playing the last song 'Fantasy' from this session live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CygX2RRUUI.


PAUL GUERRERO - Concert Jazz (WGM, mid-70s)

Paul Guerrero - Concert Jazz
US, mid-70s
private press

A1 Trapped
A2 Roll Call
A3 Edda
A4 In A Whirl
B1 Keyed Up
B2 I Thought About You
B3 What A Difference A Day Made
B4 As Long As I Live
B5 Logictude

Paul Guerrero - drums
Debra Smith - vocals
Phil DeGreg - piano
John Adams - bass
Chip McNeill - tenor sax
Paul Mazzio - trumpet


GREG ADAMS – Koolin Out (Hip City, 1983)

 Greg Adams – Koolin Out
Hip City Records – HCR 101
private press

A1 Little Bee's Poem
A2 Moments Notice
B1 Mr. P.C.
B2 Armageddon
B3 Recordame

Greg Adams - drums
Dadisi Komolafe - alto sax, flute
Rickey Kelly - vibes
Jon Williams The Mad Capp - cornet
Bobby West - piano
Al Threats - bass
Kaeef Ruzaden - piano (A2, B3)

life's ups & downs
smiles & frowns
koolin out is what
it's all about 
– greg adams