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

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.

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

Posted by Jeff MichaelBlues Mind MatterEndless Planets Blog