For those who enjoy the experimental sounds of DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Surprise Chef and Now-Again’s very own Egon, it may not surprise you to discover they all have something in common: Minoru Muraoka!
Born Muraoka Fukuo in 1924, Minoru Muraoka was a Japanese shakubachi player (a shakubachi being a traditional bamboo Japanese flute) who specialised in an innovative jazz fusion style. Commencing in the early 1960’s, his career spanned over nearly two decades; in which time he recorded many albums – both as a solo artist and with several groups, including Zen, the New Dimension Group and the Minoru Muraoka Orchestra.
Another fan of this artist is Brighton label, Mr Bongo! Minoru Muraoka’s 1970 Bamboo LP has long been of their favourite reissues (which the label cut in 2019), mostly for the killer shakuhachi funk cut The Positive and The Negative. The pioneering sounds of this track boasts a futuristic blend of breakbeat jazz and Japanese folkloric music, and the result is both enchanting and fortifying – those beats are MAGIC!! It’s easy to see why the likes of Shadow and Cut Chemist are drawn to this!!! It’s an utterly cool track and as I type I am working my way through the rest of Bamboo which, opening with its hypnotically rhythmic rendition of Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, is also proving to be an interesting listen..though I have to admit, I’m not as into the other cover versions on this record… Check it out above.
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