Every day, Ebay sellers in the US and Europe head up to the Post with parcels of collectible jazz vinyl addressed to Japan. I knew there was a strong interest in collectible Jazz in Japan from my tussles with TokyoJazzCollector, and the much feared ninja snipe of Ahoudori1947, a***4, buyer for Tokyo record stores Disc Union, but I never really understood how strong until I stumbled into the pages of Amazon Japan. What I discovered was more interesting than anything I could have imagined. The deeper I dug the more I found, a obsessive level of knowledge and detail I have never seen in the English printed word. Jazz, vinyl, audio, the whole sushi bento box.
Blue Note Know-how
To begin, I stumbled on the Japanese edition of Fred Cohen’s monumental Guide to Blue Note first Pressings, translated into Japanese. I wondered if it outsells the US edition? Thanks to Fred’s book, Japanese collectors enjoy a level playing field of information, with language on Ebay no barrier thanks to Google Translate and Paypal obliging in the currency conversion department. The only obstacle I see is the ebay default cost of post, which unhelpfully shows about one third of the actual cost of international postage, which is not inconsiderable.
The Fred Cohen book however was only the beginning . A quick press on those wonderfully helpful buttons “people who bought this also bought..” and even more helpful, “People who viewed this also viewed these” lifted the lid on the Japanese interest Jazz. Another translation,the Richard Cook book on Blue Note (wave small British flag), in Japanese of course, but still just the tip of the iceberg. Japan is awash with Blue Note collector guides. Volume after volume of encyclopedias of Blue Note, record collectors guides, the history of Blue Note, knowledge knowledge knowledge.
In what part of the world would you find a fortnightly part works delivered to your letterbox on Blue Note artists?
Mission accomplished, Part One, Japan understands and appreciates Blue Note better than most of the citizens of its country of origin. Strange that it should travel so well across cultures and 9,000 miles but music is an international language and improvisational modern jazz is a wordless art form. No language required to understand Sonny Rollins, he sounds the same in Japanese.
Record Labels and Vinyl Know-how
Recently I was lamenting the lack of Prestige and Riverside label guides: ask Japan.
All the crazy stuff I have been struggling with about labels and engravings in the deadwax: ask Japan.
Thanks to Google Translate I found a book magnificently subtitled ” Mystery lurking in the LP record, exploring the secrets of the deepest part of the disk“. Another “ New discovery, LP record close to the monsters that inhabit the abyss of the audio” Thats my kind of talk!
Of course if you want online resources, Japan has that too, starting with the fabulous microgroove.jp Real enthusiasts do not sound enthusiastic at all…
Hi Fi Know-how
Japanese knowledge about jazz on vinyl is matched by an understanding of the level of hi-fi required to create the ultimate sound. Needless to say, they have books on it. Those Prestige-yellow horns!
Jazz Artists Know-how
It doesn’t stop there. Books on BeBop, books on West Coast jazz, books by every instrument, books by artist, books by any angle you can think of, the Japanese have it covered, all of it focussed on those precious records. Small wonder this interest spills over into lust for vinyl: vinyl porn. Small wonder air cargo is weighed down with crates of the stuff.
Enthusiasm for specific artists who have found a special place in the hearts of jazz of Japanese jazz enthusiasts – example, Bill Evans. Biography, discography, CD collections, piano scores, hard for me to tell what as at a certain point Google translate gives up, but Bill Evans is special.
The ultimate book, only from Japan, confessions of a record buyer, the personal story of three years of buying vinyl overseas. Sort of a hard copy diary of TokyoJazzCollector.
I could produce a book like this simply by compiling all the “Collectors Corner” sections of the blog. The hard bit would be translating it into Japanese., but it has got to be a surefire best seller. Hold one moment please caller, I have Japan on the line…Its about an advance order