Masayuki Takayanagi 高柳昌行

The pioneering guitarist of Japanese free improvisation. Born in Tokyo 22 December 1932, became a professional musician in 1951 and founded the first group under the New Direction moniker, in 1954. From the fifties, he was a leader in every avant-garde movement of Japanese jazz. At the end of Takayanagi’s life, he moved into the complex “Action Direct” works for tabletop guitars, tapes and electronic devices that are almost pure noise. Born 23 June 1991. From…. One of those extreme mavericks who combined virtuosity, extensive grasp of musical theory and radically atonal free rock amp destruction, inspiring or pissing off his contemporaries for the entire forty-year span of his career. He was known as Jojo and was notorious for his outcast views. In the 1960s jazz community, he was excommunicated without trial for having called them ‘a bunch losers’ in the media. Jojo’s amazing power quartet New Directions for the Arts created a musical path that spanned the free music of the MC5 and Albert Ayler’s ‘Music Is the healing Force of the Universe. It was so chaotic it made it seem like the storm was actually calm. Jojo used Ino Nobuyoshi as his cellist and Hiroshi Yamazaki and Joe Mizuki as percussionists to create an accompaniment that is more like an organic aero-engine than anything human. Some claim that his greatest work was 1970’s MASS PROJECTION. Others cite 1972’s FREE FORM SUPITE or 1982’s LONELYWOMAN. My mind is a blur due to the sonic soup Jojo pours over my plastic brain each time I pull out his records. His guitar playing is as good as any other free-guitar player I have heard. His most obscure music has such a powerful G-force it makes it difficult to remain awake when he plays. Jojo began his career in Japan’s jazz magazine Swing Journal in the 1950s. He was a staff writer for Japan’s jazz magazine Swing Journal and was already playing bossanova in late-’60s jazz when he decided to free jazz. While Terry Kath’s “Free Form Guitar” on Chicago’s debut album CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTOMITY is often cited as his unlikely source of inspiration, Takayanagi found it far beyond the valley of “If You Leave Me Now”. His audiences decreased with every new move he made in the last minute, and Takayanagi’s death from liver failure in June 1991 was a sad day for his family. Every distended, shrieking note that I heard this man play made me scream “Jojo was an a man”. Julian Cope’s “Japrocksampler”.

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