After twenty years of listening to Hachimitsu, one of Spitz’s most popular albums, I found three (or was it four?) of their CDs on sale in Mercari at a ridiculously low price I bought the set without a moment’s thought.
So this eponymous album (Spitz’s first) is the default disc inside my player for some weeks now.
I’ve known one or two singles in this CD from a compilation album that they had in Amazon Music, but the whole set sounds so familiar even my wife quipped “aren’t those the same songs in Hachimitsu?” Indeed you could probably mix all the songs from both albums and wouldn’t even notice the difference in sound or style. Spitz’s sound is unmistakeable.
For some reason Spitz reminds me of the Eraserheads. They’re both four-piece rock/pop bands that were formed in the late eighties and found their biggest success in the nineties. However, whereas the Eraserheads released their last album in 2001, Spitz is still active twenty years later.
Speaking of Filipino musicians, while reading the CD booklet (one reason I prefer buying a CD–I get a booklet with lyrics and liner notes) I found a Jake H. Conception playing bass clarinet in one of the songs (Umeboshi). ‘Jake H. Conception’ sounds like a typical Filipino name, I thought, so I did some online sleuthing.
Tellingly, he has a Wikipedia entry in Japanese but nothing in English.
Jake H. Concepcion (January 13, 1936 – December 4, 2017) was a Filipino saxophonist, dubbed “King of Sax” in Asian countries.
He studied classical music at a Christian school and started playing the clarinet at the age of seven. He started playing the alto saxophone at the age of 15 after becoming familiar with swing jazz. He started his professional career at the age of 19 and came to Japan alone in 1964 at the age of 23.
Since then, he has been a backing band member for many artists as a studio musician. Especially in the 1970s and early 1980s, he became an indispensable presence in the Japanese music scene, participating in Takuro Yoshida’s concerts and albums by Godaigo, Eiichi Otaki, Masashi Sada, Miyuki Nakajima, Yumi Matsutoya, Seiko Matsuda, Yukiko Okada, among others.
He has also arranged saxophone parts for songs such as Seiko Matsuda’s Sweet Memories. He also recorded many enka songs with Yoshio Kimura and Masayuki Chiyo, which can be heard on Nippon Columbia’s CD-BOX Saxophone Sings and cassette tapes of Popular Songs Without Words.
He continued to perform well after reaching his 70th birthday, but stopped his activities in January 2017 and died in December of the same year.
TOKYO-MANILA JAZZ & ARTS FESTIVAL posted a short obituary after his death in 2017.
Rest in peace Jake!
He passed on December 8, 2017.
Jake Concepcion (1936-2017) is one of the greatest Filipino sax players who was based in Tokyo, Japan; a Guinness World record holder in 1996 as the fastest sax player alive who recorded 360 songs a month in 6 recording studios/company in Tokyo.
In 1956, Jake first landed in Okinawa as lead alto sax player of his uncle’s orchestra, Jessie Hernandez Orchestra in a US military base in Okinawa. He played together with his brother Tony Concepcion, the trumpet player of Gloria Estefan.
Early in the 60’s when Jake began accepting recording work and gigs in Tokyo, he created his own mouthpiece and sold thousands worldwide to many professional sax players around the world. He mastered his own ‘Jake’ mouthpiece and he demonstrated it in Manhattan, New York in the 90’s.
It’s curious that someone so successful in Japan is virtually unknown in his own country.
But back to the album; I’m glad I had this CD: the songs are catchy, Tamura’s bass guitar accentuating the melodies throughout and Kusano’s voice sounds warmly familiar. It will take a while to digest the lyrics but I think it will be worth it.
No.105 on Snoozer’s 150 Greatest Albums of Japanese Rock ‘n’ Roll.
|1.||“Ninoude no Sekai”||Masamune Kusano||ニノウデの世界||4:30|
|2.||“Umi to Pink”||Kusano||海とピンク||3:38|
|4.||“Gosenkounen no Yume”||Kusano||五千光年の夢||2:42|
|5.||“Tsuki ni Kaeru”||Kusano, Tetsuya Miwa||月に帰る||4:26|
|8.||“Shinigami no Misaki e”||Kusano, Miwa||死神の岬へ||3:44|
|10.||“Natsu no Mamono”||Kusano||夏の魔物||3:10|
|12.||“Hibari no Kokoro”||Kusano||ヒバリのこころ||4:51|
- Masamune Kusano – vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica
- Tetsuya Miwa – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electric/acoustic twelve-string guitar, classical guitar
- Akihiro Tamura – four-string bass guitar, eight-string bass guitar
- Tatsuo Sakiyama – drums, tambourine, cabassa, triangle, claves
- Tsunehiko Yashiro – harmonium (“Bīdama”), ensoliq (“Tsuki ni Kaeru”), Farfisa organ (“Shinigami no Misaki e”), Hammond organ (“Hibari no Kokoro”)
- Aska Kaneko – violin (“Umeboshi”)
- Jun Takeuchi – violin (“Umeboshi”)
- Shigeo Horiuchi – cello (“Umeboshi”)
- Shinichi Horiuchi – cello (“Umeboshi”)
- Jake H. Conception – bass clarinet (“Umeboshi”)
- Spitz – producer, art direction
- Nobuhiko Takahashi – producer
- Juli Kawai – recording engineer, mixing engineer
- Shinya Nakamura – additional engineer
- Jiro Takita – additional engineer
- Koreyuki Tanaka – additional engineer
- Shinji Kobayashi – additional engineer
- Takayoshi Yamauchi – additional engineer
- Reiko Miyoshi – mastering engineer
- Yoshiro Kajitani – art direction, design
- Michiko Arakawa – design
- Masao Torii – photography
- Takeo Ogiso – photography
- Yutaka Yoda – hair, make-up
- Mayumi Katayama – styling
- Yoshitomo Yoshimoto – graphic novel (1997 reissue)
- Stephen Marcussen – remastering engineer (2002 reissue)
- Yoichiro Yamazaki – sleevenotes (2002 reissue)