Exploring the discography of known artists in city-pop sometimes brings a lot of surprises. Tatsuro Yamashita’s cover albums, Toshiki Kadomatsu‘s instrumental albums, so many special cases for these artists who are able to easily write pre-formatted titles for the general public.
Today, we are interested in the album Blue Eyes by Miki Matsubara. Released in 1984, it comes to make a parenthesis in the career of the famous interpreter of Stay With Me (Released in 1980 as a reminder).
Cole Porter, Erroll Garner, Antonio Carlos Jobim and others
Let’s go directly to the set-list to find out what it is:
- Love For Sale – Cole Porter
- Misty – Erroll Garner
- You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To – Cole Porter
- Wave – Antonio Carlos Jobim
- Love Letters – Edward Heyman, Victor Young
- Cheek To Cheek – Irving Berlin
- You’ve Got A Friend – Carole King
- Tea For Two – Irving Caesar, Vincent Youmans
- When You Wish Upon A Star – Leigh Harline, Ned Washington
All of these songs are jazz standards. A standard is a “known” Jazz song, in the sense that it is regularly performed in concert or even at a Jazz jam. Scores (and/or chord charts) are easily found in Real Books (or more recently in applications like iReal Pro)
The titles that stand out the most
Love For Sale starts strong with its tempo of 200. A Cole Porter standard interpreted by many jazz personalities. Boney M even did a disco version in 1977!
Misty, also made famous with the movie “Play Misty For Me” starring Clint Eastwood.
You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To is certainly the most catchy track. The instrumental intro is sublime and the precision of the drums throughout the track certainly make it the best track on this album.
Wave by Antonio Carlos Jobim is -as you might expect when you know the composer- a Bossa-Nova ballad
Cheek To Cheek, recently brought up to date by Lady Gaga brings a rather joyful touch to this album
Une excellente production, mais perfectible
This album is undoubtedly very interesting when you are a fan of the singer. If the level of the musicians and the production is excellent, you still have to be honest about the vocal interpretation. J-Pop singers do not necessarily shine by their accuracy, where it is precisely the biggest strong point of Jazz singers. Unfortunately in 1984, no auto-tune! But we had other techniques that were not used here (in particular that of dubbing the voice). It must be said that these effects would not necessarily have stuck to the style of the album. Overall, it’s still quite good, but precisely the title You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To does not reach its full potential due to this small defect.
The album can be listened to on Youtube and Spotify/Deezer/Tidal…
Jazz in Japan, an influence for City-Pop
So it’s a homecoming for Miki Matsubara. Jazz is a distant relative of city-pop. Among the direct filiation, we find as many pop artists (The Beatles, David Bowie…), as Jazz-Fusion artists (Casiopea, Masayoshi Takanaka…)
To come back more precisely to Jazz, it remains (as in other countries) quite discreet and not very popular. Only Ryo Fukui with his album Scenery will have managed to carve out a place for himself among Jazz lovers, and even then, only from 2014. The album now has 13 million views on Youtube !
If you are looking to dig some Japanese Jazz, we recommend Mint from the Kosuke Quintet (1970!):