Masayuki ‘Jojo’ Takayanagi (高柳 昌行, Takayanagi Masayuki, December 22, 1932 – June 23, 1991) was a Japanese jazz / free improvisation / noise musician. He was active in the Japanese jazz scene from the late 1950s. In the 1960s he formed New Directions (later New Direction Unit), which recorded several albums throughout the 1970s. He also recorded several albums with saxophonist Kaoru Abe, including Kaitai Teki Kohkan, Gradually Projection and Mass Projection
Station ’70 Call in Question / Live Independence by Masayuki Takayanagi, Black Edition Group, 2022 on #neuguitars #blog #TakayanagiMasayuki
In August 1969, Masayuki Takayanagi formed his first New Direction group and embarked on an unparalleled musical journey that over the final 22 years of his life would define him as an uncompromising artist who would forge a visionary new musical language. Comprised of himself on acoustic and electric guitar and joined by Motoharu Yoshizawa on bass and Yoshisaburo ‘Sabu’ Toyozumi on drums, Takayanagi’s group created a new unconstrained form of music; It expanded on the most radical, fiery elements of American and European Free Jazz, while refracting them through an avant garde prism. Harmonic and melodic development were rejected in favor of feedback and complete spontaneity. With New Direction, Takayanagi had achieved a “decisive break” from the past and created his own revolutionary music – a ferocious, often violent sound that paradoxically took both musical movement and stillness to their extremes.
Takayanagi’s New Direction soon recorded one of the landmark albums of free jazz and the avant garde, Independence: Tread on Sure Ground (1970). It was Takayanagi’s first album as a group leader and nothing short of groundbreaking. However, it would be 25 years before a wider audience would finally able to hear Takayanagi’s vision with the group in its most explosive and unmitigated realization; Japan’s P.S.F. records released two CD’s, Call in Question (1994) and Live Independence (1995) which featured unearthed, previously unheard 1970 recordings made by the group at the legendary Shibuya Tokyo venue, Station ’70. The recordings were revelatory; They presented nascent, jarring versions of Takayanagi’s “Gradually Projection” and “Mass Projection” modalities in uncut, unvarnished long form. Joined on some tracks by renowned saxophonist Mototeru Takagi, the performances are intensely physical and visceral – each player creating a vivid self contained sound that at the same time merges with the overall group imperative to create something entirely new and beautiful. Yoshizawa, Toyozumi as well as Takagi would, in their own right, go on to join Takayanagi as iconic players in the world of Japanese free jazz and avant garde. It is these performances, in a crucial moment of societal and cultural upheaval, that would help lay the groundwork for the rich world of free improvisation, free jazz and, to a large degree, underground music in Japan for decades to come.
Later Takayanagi would write “It is improvisation alone that transcends genre and academicism to become music as raw, independent existence, the most unique living organism within a yet-to-be unknown”. It is in these recordings that that “yet-to-be unknown” can begin to be heard.
Black Editions is proud to present the entirety of the recordings presented on both P.S.F. albums as well as a previously unreleased side-long Mass Projection in a deluxe, remastered 3LP box set. The set features the stark photography of the late Yuji Itsumi and presents the original liner notes by key Japanese music critics and historians Yoshiyuki Kitazato and Toshihiko Shimizu newly translated into English as well as in the original Japanese.
released April 18, 2022
Masayuki Takayanagi – Guitar
Motoharu Yoshizawa – Bass
Sabu Toyozumi – Drums
Mototeru Takagi – Saxophone (D2)
Recorded at Station ’70, Tokyo
A1-E1 recorded by Jin Ishitani, March 11 and 12, 1970
F1 recorded February 19, 1970
Mastering by JJ Golden, Golden Mastering 2020
All photos by Yūji Itsumi except back cover photo of Masayuki Takayanagi, 1968, photographer unknown.
Graphic design by Rob Carmichael, SEEN, with typographic assistance from Takuya Kitamura
Notes by Yoshiyuki Kitazato and Toshihiko Shimizu
Timeline by Yasunori Saito
English Translation by Yuko Zama and Alan Cummings
Black Edition supervised and produced by Peter Kolovos
Released under license from Jinya Disc, Japan
A1-E1 originally released on CD by P.S.F. Japan as”Call in Question”
(PSFD-41, 1994) and “Live Independence” (PSFD-57, 1995)