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Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan by E. Taylor Atkins

BLUE NIPPON is going to open many eyes to what has been happening to Japanese jazz over the decades, from its 1920s dancehalls to the present. Author E. Taylor Atkins reveals in detail the ways in which the World War 2 situation forced new concepts into acceptance, how the Japanese nationalists attempted to force a ban on jazz which failed, and what happened after WW2 to the present day. This book is a tour de force of scholarly research presented in a highly readable and enjoyable context which will attract many readers.

The opener, "Prelude: Plenty Plenty Soul," gives the reader an excellent approach and understanding of what Japanese jazz is, followed by 6 chapters that cover Japanese jazz completely. As a musical and cultural study, this ranks as one of the best nonfiction books of its kind published dealing with Japanese jazz.

A closing item, titled "Our Thing: Defining "Japanese Jazz"" is worth the price of the book just to read! With notes, references, discography, and index, this is a fine reference to have in the home library, and also, in the public library.

Another chapter which I re-read twice with keen interest was "Bop, Funk, Junk, and That Old Democracy Boogie: The Jazz Tribes of Postwar Japan." These chapters are long and entertaining, and filled with factual data that is not easily found elsewhere.

As a writer, and as a historian, E. Taylor Atkins has produced a remarkable reference book on Japanese jazz that is both entertaining and factual, written in a sensitive and thoughtful approach, and an honest look at a subject too often overlooked in contemporary jazz writings. The Japanese jazz entertainers are covered, among them Alice Fumiko Kawabata, Rickey Miyagawa, Kami Kyosuke.

An important bebop musician whom Japanese musicians credit as introducing them to bebop was Army Lt. James T. Araki (1926 - 1992), an American multi-instrumentalist who also became a scholar of Japanese literature. Also, musician Hampton Hawes (1928 - 1977), the American bebop pianist who performed in the Army Band during 1953 - 1954. Everything you wanted to know about Japanese jazz and the people involved with it are in this excellent book.

If you are looking for something on Japanese jazz, you could not find a better book than BLUE NIPPON by E. Taylor Atkins. Factual, entertaining, and sensitive are the three words that sum up BLUE NIPPON. Excellent reading.BLUE NIPPON is going to open many eyes to what has been happening to Japanese jazz over the decades, from its 1920s dancehalls to the present. Author E. Taylor Atkins reveals in detail the ways in which the World War 2 situation forced new concepts into acceptance, how the Japanese nationalists attempted to force a ban on jazz which failed, and what happened after WW2 to the present day.

Additional Info

  • Book Title: Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan
  • Author: E. Taylor Atkins
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Year Published: 2001
  • Book Type:: Non-Fiction
  • ISBN: 057117048X
  • Rating: Five Stars
  • Number of Pages: 408
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