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Three Blind Mice at Eastwind Import!

by Hajime 22. December 2006 03:17

If you are an audiophile, you must either remember or have heard about the legendary Japanese label Three Blind Mice. Produced by Takeshi Fujii and often recorded by the genious Yoshihiko Kannari, TBM created superb jazz records by Japanese players since the 1970s and became known for its audiophile sound quality. TBM's original analog recordings have been remastered and reissued in various digital formats, including JVC's XRCDs and FIM's SACDs.

Beyond sound quality, TBM's records captured a very important, vibrant era in the development of Japanese jazz. Stars like Isao Suzuki, Tsuyoshi Yamamoto, George Kawaguchi, Terumasa Hino and Mari Nakamoto recorded their very first albums with the label. They would go on to become legendary jazz musicians, and many of them are still actively playing, but in the 1970s they were young and full of energy. They took risks, stretched and explored, all in the joy of playing that vibrant music called jazz.

The TBM label unfortunately folded in 1994, but this year, in 2006, a new partnership with Sony Music has brought those classic records back in the form of prestine-sounding hybrid SACDs, all remastered in glorious DSD by Sony's own sound engineers. The first series of 10 titles were issued on November 22, and the second batch of 10 titles were just released on December 20, 2006. These are very special limited editions, and only a limited number is being pressed for each title.

Eastwind Import is proud to present this definitive SACD version of the legendary audiophile recordings. We have just acquired several copies of two titles and they are now available at www.eastwindimport.com.


Bassist Isao Suzuki's Blow Up, in its original vinyl LP and various digital reincarnations have been used as a demonstration disc at many audio shows and audio shops ever since it was released in 1973. The piano trio (and occasionally a quartet with Suzuki playing cello) plays soulful and energetic jazz.

Under the supervision of the original TBM owner Takeshi Fujii, Sony's engineer remastered from the original analog master tapes with absolutely no touch-ups, corrections, or re-balancing. He tried to "fix" things in his own way, but came to a conclusion that doing nothing was the best way to go.


The second hybrid SACD that we acquired is Midnight Sugar by Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio.

In 1973, a new jazz club called "Misty" opened its doors in Tokyo, and young Tsuyoshi Yamamoto became its "house" pianist in January 1974. TBM producer Takeshi Fujii fell in love with Yamamoto's bluesy and lyrical playing, and decided to record his trio's first album. Recorded in March 1974, this album would become the "most exported" of all TBM titles. Beloved by jazz fans all over the world, this disc captures the trio's brilliant performance in superb sound quality.

After listening to them myself, I can guarantee that the sound quality is superb and the this SACD version sounds absolutely gorgeous, on both titles. It's crystal clear, dynamic, low in noise, and has none of that nasty high frequency glare typically associated with redbook CDs.

If you are a fan of Three Blind Mice, don't miss out on this opportunity to add these very rare, limited edition hybrid SACDs to your collection. We plan to import more titles in the future. Go to www.eastwindimport.com now and check them out!

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New Arrival: Gene DiNovi's Live CD

by Hajime 14. December 2006 14:13

By popular demand, our favorite "jazz piano poet" Gene DiNovi's At Red Brick Warehouse - Live in Yokohama is now in stock at Eastwind Import!



Gene DiNovi (p)
Neil Swainson (b)
Yukio Kimura (ds)

This wonderful concert was recorded in April 2003 in Yokohama, Japan, at a red brick warehouse which had been renovated into a concert hall.

The "jazz piano poet" Gene DiNovi is in fine form here. Having issued several albums in Japan through Marshmallow Records, DiNovi plays his favorite tunes and originals before appreciative audience. Listen to the crackling swing of Come Fly with Me and elegant rendering of Charade.

DiNovi's solos are so beautiful that sometimes the audience gets entranced and forgets to applaud at the end! All songs are lovely, but my particular favorite is Red Dragonfly, a Japnese children's song.

Neil Swainson--one of the best bassists in the world right now in my opinion--has many opportunities to solo as well. Listen to his beautiful tone and amazing but subtle technique. This is another gem by Gene DiNovi, brought to you by Mr. Johfu of Marshmallow Records. If you are a DiNovi fan, you can't miss this one! Go to Eastwind Import and check it out!

Album Tracks:
1.  Come Fly with Me
2.  Charade
3.  L'oiseau du Paradis
4.  Golden Earrings
5.  Wonder Why
6.  One for Johfu
7.  Tea for Two
8.  In the Middle of a Kiss
9.  The Song Is You
10.  So In Love
11.  Red Dragonfly

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Atelier Sawano and Sketch CDs now available!

by Hajime 13. December 2006 14:03
As I have stated before, Eastwind Import's CD catalog just got bigger! Excellent CDs from Japanese independent jazz label Atelier Sawano and French impring Sketch have finally arrived, and they are available for sale!

Please go to www.eastwindimport.com and check out the following new additions:

From Atelier Sawano
Vladimir Shafranov Trio / White Nights
Vladimir Shafranov Trio / Portrait In Music
Vladimir Shafranov Trio / New York Revisited
Joe Chindamo Trio / America! -- Plays Paul Simon Songbook
Berndt Egerbladh Trio / Mousse Au Chocolat
Berndt Egerbladh Trio / Sweet and Lovely
Jos Van Beest Trio / Because of You
Jos Van Beest Trio / Swingin' Softly
Jean-Philippe Viret Trio / Autrement Dit

From Sketch
Giovanni Mirabassi Trio / Architecture
Giovanni Mirabassi / Avanti!
Mirabassi Boltro Ferris / AIR
Jean-Philippe Viret Trio / Considerations
Jean-Philippe Viret Trio / Etant Donnes
Antonio Farao Trio / Borderlines
Mal Waldron / One More Time

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New Label: Atelier Sawano coming soon!

by Hajime 5. December 2006 15:00
I am pleased to inform you that Eastwind Import will now carry selected CDs from an esteemed Japanese label Atelier Sawano. This independent label, based in Osaka, Japan, is owned by Mr. Sawano, who is originally and still an owner of a shoe store.

Mr. Sawano began his label as a side business, first by reissuing some hard-to-find European jazz records in CD format. He then moved on to producing new CDs of previously-unknown European artists. One of his earliest hit CD was White Nights by Vladimir Shafranov, a Russian-born pianist who lives in Finland.

He has since then introduced many talented European jazz musicians such as Bernt Egerbladh (Sweden), Giovanni Marabassi (Italy), Jos Van Beest (Holland) and Jean-Philip Viret (France) to the Japanese market, and now has an impressive catalog of high quality jazz, which can be seen at www.jazz-sawano.com (Japanese only).

Under an exclusive deal with Atelier Sawano, following CDs will soon be available at Eastwind Import (www.eastwindimport.com). If you like European jazz, and especially piano trio music, check our online store often because many treasures are coming soon! As far as I can tell, these CDs are very difficult, if not impossible, to find in North America.

- Vladimir Shafranov Trio / White Nights
- Vladimir Shafranov Trio / Portrait in Music
- Vladimir Shafranov Trio / New York Revisited
- Bernt Egerbladh Trio / Mousse Au Chocolat
- Bernt Egerbladh Trio / Sweet and Lovely
- Jos Van Beest Trio / Because of You
- Jos Van Beest Trio / Swingin' Softly
- Joe CHindamo Trio / America!
- Jean-Philippe Viret Trio / Etant Donnes
- Jean-Philippe Viret Trio / Considerations
- Antonio Farao Trio / Borderlines
- Mal Waldron Trio / One More Time

See you soon at www.eastwindimport.com
Happy Holidays!

Hajime

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R.I.P. Anita O'Day

by Hajime 25. November 2006 15:18
Music Blogs - Blog Top Sites
A great jazz singer Anita O'Day passed away this Thanksgiving morning at the age of 87.

I fell in love with her singing when I heard her "This Is Anita" album from Verve, with Buddy Bregman and his Orchestra. I was blown away by her wonderful sense of swing in "You're the Top" and "Honeysuckle Rose," and her vulnerable, sensitive ballad singing in "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and "Time after Time."

Many of her fans also remember her live performance captured in the excellent movie "Jazz on a Summer's Day." She looked so lady-like, yet so hip and cool. She may not have been as well endowned as Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan in terms of physical abilities, but she more than made up for it with her impeccable sense of swing and instrumentalist-like understanding of the bop idiom. In many ways, she epitomized the hipness of jazz.

Every time I listen to her albums, they bring a smile to my face. I'm thankful for her gift of music. She may be gone but her music will stay with us and continue to delight us. Thank you, Anita!

My Recommendation: Anita O'Day's best albums
Anita Sings the MostAnita Sings the Most
Anita O'Day Sings the WinnersAnita O'Day Sings the Winners
Pick Yourself Up with Anita O'DayPick Yourself Up with Anita O'Day
Anita O'Day Swings Cole Porter with Billy MayAnita O'Day Swings Cole Porter with Billy May
This Is AnitaThis Is Anita
The Big Band YearsThe Big Band Years
DVD
Jazz on a Summer's Day/A Summer's Day With Bert SternJazz on a Summer's Day
Autobiography
0879101180High Times Hard Times

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Improving the sound files

by Hajime 16. November 2006 22:14

We at Eastwind Import are constantly trying to improve our customoers' shopping experience. As part of that effort, we are now in the process of replacing sample audio files on the detalied product page.

The current WMA or WMX files (which can be heard on Windows Media Player) are small and quick to load, but do not represent the superb sound quality of the Marshmallow Record CDs. So we've decided to replace most of them with MP3 files that sound much better.

Remember, they are still compressed files so actual CDs sound MUCH better. But we believe that the MP3 files give you a better idea of how Marshmallow CDs will sound at your home. After all, we believe that sound quality matters! It may take us a while to convert all the sample audio files to MP3s, but we will do it one by one.

For starters, we've just replaced the sample audio files of our bestseller, Jan Lundgren in New York. If you're curious, please go to the product page and listen for yourself at www.eastwindimport.com.

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A great review of Marshmmallow CDs on Positive Feedback Online!

by Hajime 12. November 2006 13:32
The first-ever review of Marshmallow Records CDs in the US is published on a premier online audiophile magazine Positive Feedback Online! Click the link to read the full review.

Mr. Robert Levi listened to three of Marshmallow's latest recordings: Jan Lundgren in New York, Flower of the Night by Gene DiNovi, and Footprints by Casper Villaume. Here's what Mr. Levi says about the sound quality:

I listened to three of their newest releases and all I can say is heads up audiophiles! ... Clear, clean, smooth, and ultra detailed, the Marshmallow sound totally lacks grain and etch. ... This is near master tape sound! Priced fairly at $25 each, they are a good deal for what may be the best recorded and performed jazz CDs on the planet.

On Jan Lundgren in New York (MMEX-106), Mr. Levi opines:

Sparingly mic'd, beautifully played, and tastefully recorded, you have to get a copy for yourself. Absolutely wonderful for reading or romancing or just kick back listening with your favorite cognac. Some of the sweetest jewel-like piano sound and super deep rosiny bass sound around.

On Gene DiNovi's
Flower of the Night (MMEX-110):

This is your ticket to greatness and a must own CD. Gorgeous jazz, superb playing all around, delicately and faithfully recorded, this is a CD without flaws.

On Kasper Villaume Trio's
Footprints (MMEX-109):

These top European musicians have an intensity in their playing that is so entertaining. ... The recorded sound is open, open, open with lively dynamics. You'll just smile as you listen.

Thank you, Mr. Levi for your wonderful and thoughtful review of these Marshmallow Record CDs! Those interested in purchasing the CDs, please visit our online shop Eastwind Import.

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Eastwind Import is now open!

by Hajime 5. November 2006 16:12

November 1, 2006

If you are an avid jazz fan, you may already know that Japan has some excellent independent jazz labels. But mostly their fabulous CDs are marketed only in Japan, and it has been very difficult if not impossible to obtain them in the US and other parts of the world. You might come across some of them but they are often hugely overpriced.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way, says a new company called Eastwind Import (www.eastwindimport.com) based in California. They now offer an easy way to purchase Japanese import CDs online. You can visit their website, browse through CDs, read artist profiles, listen to sample tracks and purchase what you like using a credit card, all in English language. Prices are set at a comparable level; approximately the same as if you’d pay for in Japan.

 

Currently Eastwind Import carries only one label, Marshmallow Records, with a plan to add more labels later. The heretofore “obscure” Marshmallow Records has an impressive catalog; new recordings by prominent European pianists Jan Lundgren, Carsten Dahl, Kasper Villaume, and American jazz musicians who live abroad like Gene DiNovi and Bob Rockwell. They also carry 1980s and 1990s recordings of late jazz greats Duke Jordan and Chet Baker.

 

This is an exciting event for jazz fans in the US and other parts of the world. With a strong belief that jazz is universal and great music transcends national borders and language barriers, Eastwind Import brings what the best Japanese jazz labels offer. Check them out for yourself at www.eastwindimport.com.

 

Eastwind Import

www.eastwindimport.com

2477 Paseo Circulo

Tustin, CA 92782


Contact:

Hajime Sato

hajime@eastwindimport.com


About Eastwind Import

Eastwind Import is a specialty distribution company based in California that imports excellent jazz CDs produced in Japan. “Hard to find CDs at reasonable prices” is our motto. Currently we carry 21 titles from an independent Japanese label Marshmallow Records. All CDs are available online at:

www.eastwindimport.com

 

About Marshmallow Records

Marshmallow Records was established in 1978 by Mr. Mitsuo Johfu, an avid jazz fan and owner of a clothing store. Through the long years, Mr. Johfu has kept recording jazz artists he personally knows and cares about, from late Chet Baker and Duke Jordan to younger European musicians such as Jan Lundgren, Carsten Dahl and Casper Villaume. He also made a sort of comeback possible for veteran American artists like Gene DiNovi and Sir Charles Thompson.

Mr. Johfu is proud of his "Japanese sensibilities" and deeply involved in every session that he records, from the choice of songs to sound engineering and packaging. In fact, he travels all over the world to be on hand at most recording sessions, and takes all the photographs that appear on his beautifully packaged CDs. Now he operates one of the most respected independent jazz labels in Japan, and his catalog is growing in both quantity and quality every year.

Marshmallow Records website: www.marshmallow-records.com
(Japanese only)

 

Featured Artists

 

JAN LUNDGREN

Jan Lundgren is one of the most exciting jazz pianists on the scene today, not only in his native Sweden, not only in Europe, but the entire world. His versatility, curiosity and impressive knowledge of jazz, combined with an awesome awareness of the Great American Songbook, have made him one of today’s most respected piano artists.

Jan Lundgren was born in 1966 in Kristianstad, Sweden. He started playing piano at the age of five. Around 1989 he began to develop a keen interest in jazz, listening to pianists like Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Bud Powell and Bill Evans. In 1986 he began five years of study at the Malmõ College of Music from where he graduated in 1991. In 1994 he released his first album as a leader. One of his early leader albums, "Swedish Standards," became a huge hit and received the Golden Record Award in the country for the best jazz recording of 1997.

He has played with, among others, guitarist Ulf Wakenius, tenorist Karl-Martin Almqvist, Johnny Griffin, Deborah Brown, Stacey Kent, Rick Perry, Conte Candoli, Vincent Herring, Frank Vignola, Herb Geller, Ken Peplowski, James Moody, Benny Golson, Andy Martin and Pete Jolly. Lundgren has toured most European countries, Australia and Japan, not to mention the many times he has visited the United States to record and perform live.

 

Jan Lundgren is the most featured artist of Marshmallow Records, for which he has recorded no less than five albums.

 

GENE DINOVI

Born in New York in 1928, Gene DiNovi is one of the few musicians in his generation who is still actively playing. Indeed, at the age of 78 (as of 2006) he shows no sign of stopping, releasing new albums from the Japanese label Marshmallow records.

Initially influenced by Teddy Wilson, Ellis Larkins and Duke Ellington, he made a successful transition to the bebop style. He worked for a long time supporting singers such as Peggy Lee (1949-50), Tony Bennett (1950-51), Anita O'Day and Lena Horn (1955-63), Mel Torme (1968) and Carmen McRae (1960s-70s).

Gene DiNovi lives in Toronto, Canada, and continues to delight jazz fans with his swinging and beautiful piano style.

 

CARSTEN DAHL

Danish jazz musician Carsten Dahl began his career as a drummer, and trained with master percussionist Ed Thigpen at Copenhagen's Rhythmic Conservatory before switching to piano. As a pianist, he recorded with Thigpen on That's Entertainment and as a band leader on Will You Make My Soup Hot & Silver, both released in 1998. Message From Bud appeared the following year, and in mid-2000 Dahl returned with Butterfly Dream. As of 2006, he has recorded three albums for Marshmallow Records of Japan.

 

KASPER VILLAUME

One of Denmark’s leading young piano talents with international recognition both with his own groups and as a sideman, Kasper Villaume has won several prizes in Denmark and internationally. Kasper Villaume has studied with, among others, Kenny Werner, Ellis Marsalis and at the Rythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen. He has released several prize winning CDs as a leader and as a sideman.

Kasper Villaume is today one of the most popular pianists of the Danish jazz scene. He has played and recorded with Ed Thigpen, Leroy Jones, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Allan Bothcinsky, Danny Moss, Alex Riel, Jesper Lundgaard, Katrine Madsen, Jesper Thilo and Bob Rockwell. He's recorded two albums as a leader for Marshmallow Records of Japan.

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