Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Lost "Space Road"

"Space Road" by Tetsuo Sakurai with Casiopea featuring Kazuki Katsuta (2000)

Performers: Tetsuo Sakurai (E. Bass), Issei Noro (Guitar), Minoru Makaiya (Keyboards), Akira Jimbo (Drums), Kazuki Katsuta (A. Sax)

Casiopea is one of Japan's foremost and eldest jazz-fusion groups which helped pioneer the sound of guitars, keyboards and basses to the tune of funky music too smooth for rock, too eclectic and fresh for traditional jazz, thus the birth of fusion -- combining the best of both worlds. The genre of fusion boomed in the 1970s with many experimenting beyond the galaxy of jazz and rock.

"Space Road" was of Casiopea's finer, lesser known achievements not performed too much beyond the early 80's in live shows, eclipsed by their newer works. The original, a gem of a tune was released on their first album "Casiopea" in 1979.

In 2000, Tetsuo Sakurai, the former bass guitar player of Casiopea, whose gone towards other projects and collaborations since 1989, had played live with his former band in commemoration of the 20th Anniversary (which had struck in 1999, went to continue touring live in 2000) of Casiopea's discography.

This special show: Tetsuo Sakurai with Casiopea 20th Anniversary Live, which had released only on the web after a premiere on "Music Air", a music channel on Japan's cable, remains visally unreleased onto any home format. Well, actually there was a CD released though disappointingly a handful of tracks (actually all the Casiopea tracks, likely halted by licensing issues) didn't make it onto the disc's impressive performances including this amazing rendition of "Space road" which features Kazuki Katsuta's signature rocket-fast, super action high-registering alto sax playing.

If you haven't seen this video yet, it's a must watch: an array of incredibly talented, fine musicians.

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