Makoto Terashita Meets Harold Land–Topology.

Label: BBE Music.

Hot on the heels of BBE Music’s critically acclaimed compilation J Jazz-Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969-1983 Volume 2, comes a reissue of Topology, a collaboration from 1983 between the young, up-and-coming,  Japanese pianist Makoto Terashita, and fifty-five year old American  hard bop and post bop tenor saxophonist Harold Land. He was by then, an elder statesman of jazz, and on Topology, which was  billed as Makoto Terashita Meets Harold Land the two generations of jazzers recorded six tracks. These tracks became Topology, which although it’s one of the finest J Jazz albums of the eighties, is almost unknown outside of Japan. Only a few discerning connoisseurs of jazz were aware of the existence of Topology, which  is a welcome reissue and is a chance for to rediscover this collaboration between Makoto Terashita and Harold Land from 1983.

When Topology was recorded in 1983, Makoto Terashita was still in his early thirties, and had only recorded one album as bandleader, Great Harvest. It was released five years earlier, in 1978, and nowadays, is regarded as a J Jazz cult classic, and is a tantalising taste of what was to come from Makoto Terashita. He would go on to become one of the greats of J Jazz. 

By 1983, Harold Land was fifty-five, and was approaching veteran status, and was a vastly experienced tenor saxophonist who had played alongside many jazz greats as sideman including Bobby Hutcherson, Clifford Brown, Gerald Wilson and Max Roach. However, Harold Land was also an experienced bandleader, and by 1983, had released twelve solo albums for various labels including Mainstream, Pacific Jazz and Blue Note since making his recording debut in the fifties. 

Four decades later, he was still playing live and recording, and journeyed to Japan to record Topology with Makoto Terashita. He was already an incredibly gifted composer and had written five of the six tracks that would feature on Topology. The other, World Peace was written by Harold Land.  

These six tracks were recorded with a talented band that featured a rhythm section of drummer Mike Reznikof and bassist Yasushi Yoneki. They were joined by percussionist Takayuki Koizumi  and the two stars of the album pianist  Makoto Terashita and tenor saxophonist Harold Land. They recorded the six tracks that became the captivating collaboration Topology, which was billed as Makoto Terashita Meets Harold Land.

Topology was released to plaudits and praise later in 1983 on the cult Aketa’s Disk label, but wasn’t a commercial success. Outside of Japan, Topology failed to make any impression, which was a great shame given the quality of music on Topology. 

When Topology was released, Makoto Terashita was still an up-and-coming pianist but played with a maturity despite his relative inexperience. By contrast, Harold Land was a veteran whose playing was inventive, confident and was versatile. His playing was also nuanced and full of subtleties throughout Topology.  

Topology opens with Dragon Dance an energetic spiritual jazz opus where  Makoto Terashita’s piano takes centrestage during the  introduction and showcases his considerable skills. It’s a tantalising taste of what’s to come. Harold Land kicks loose during Crossing, a heady and intoxicating slice of bop. Very difference is World  Peace, a ruminative Harold Land composition full of subtleties and nuances. Crossing  which closes Topology, is a nine minute epic, which breezes along, with Harold Lamb’s tenor saxophone playing a starring role on what’s one of the album’s highlights.

It was only much later that jazz afficianados discovered the delights  of Topology by Makoto Terashita and Harold Land. Topology which is now regarded as a J Jazz classic us a captivating collaboration between two truly talented jazz musicians. They may have come from difference backgrounds and were from different generations, but were responsible for enduring and engaging J Jazz classic Topology, which is belatedly is starting to find an audience and receive the recognition and critical acclaim it so richly deserves.

Makoto Terashita Meets Harold Land–Topology.

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