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Eighty-Eights Come to the States

Stop—before you shell out megabucks on eBay for Japanese-only discs like Clark Terry and Max Roach’s Friendship or Roy Haynes’ Love Letters: They won’t be Japanese-only much longer. Eighty-Eights, the Japanese label responsible for releasing those discs-as well as Ravi Coltrane’s Mad 6 and Eddie Henderson’s Miles Davis tribute, So What-has struck a deal with the mighty Columbia Records of the mighty United States which will have the CDs appear in American stores on April 15.

In case you’re clueless about Eighty-Eights, and that’s OK because it’s both a new label and based far, far away, it was founded by producer Yasohachi “88” Itoh, who had success in the 1970s recording folk like Art Farmer, Junior Mance, Sadao Watanabe, Andrew Hill and Sheila Jordan on his East Wind jazz label. Eighty-Eights is in fact an imprint of another label, Village Records label, which is a subsidiary of Sony Music Japan. To connect the dots even further, Sony Corporation owns Columbia.

The forthcoming U.S. CDs are all 21st Century recordings made at Avatar Studio in New York City using the Direct Stream Digital (DSD) process, which makes music sound especially great on the Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) format, which was developed by Sony. Funny how it all works. The music would likely sound good on even 8-track tape, however. The talent is well established.

The Terry/Roach disc features pianist Don Friedman and Marcus McLaurine on a 13-track set made up mostly of standards.

Ravi Coltrane’s CD came about when his contract with RCA France expired. Itoh snatched up the tenor the legend’s son on the spot and had him do a split set of covers and originals with pianists George Colligan and Andy Milne, bassists James Genus and Darryl Hall and drummer Steve Hass.

Henderson’s Miles Davis tribute is special because it was one of saxophonist Bob Berg’s last sessions before dying tragically in a car accident this past December. Berg was a Miles Davis band member in the 1980s. Pianist David Kikoski, bassist Ed Howard and drummers Victor Lewis and Billy Hart also played on the date.

Finally, the Haynes disc showcases the 77-year-old drummer with all-star group of players in different settings. Pianists Kenny Barron and David Kikoski, guitarist John Scofield, tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman and bassists Dave Holland and Christian McBride play on the disc.

For more information about the releases and Eighty-Eights in general, visit eighty-eights.com

Originally Published