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.
2477 Paseo Circulo
Tustin, CA 92782
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.