Cult Classic: Takeo Moriyama-East Plants.

In 1983, Japanese jazz drummer Takeo Moriyama was thirty-eight and into his third decade as a musician when he released his 1983 cult classic East Plants. It’s highly prized by collectors of J-Jazz and one of his finest albums. His story began in 1945.

Takeo Moriyama was born on the ‘27th’ of January 1945, in Katsunuma, in the Yamanashi Prefecture. As a child, Takeo Moriyama played piano before switching to drums in his late teens. This resulted  in him taking a degree in percussion at the Tokyo University of the Arts.

In 1967, Takeo Moriyama joined Yosuke Yamashita’s group and embraced upon several international tours before leaving in 1975. This was all good experienced for Takeo Moriyama who was unsure about his future.

So much so, that Takeo Moriyama  was unsure whether he wanted to continue working as professional musicians, and instead decided to concentrate his efforts on teaching. Between 1975 and 1977, Takeo Moriyama stayed way from studio and never took to the stage. Many of his fans wondered if Takeo Moriyama would return to his former life as a professional musician?

 In  1977, Takeo Moriyama returned of from what was akin to a lengthy sabbatical and decided to found his own quartet. Soon, the Takeo Moriyama Quartet were touring West Germany, Italy and the USSR. This allowed the new group to hone their sound before recording a new albums.

This included the Takeo Moriyama Quartet’s 1977  live debut album Flush Up. Four years later, in 1981 they returned with followup, Smile.

It  was a very different album, and Smile that eschewed the eruptive improvisation of the past. Smile feature  a new  approach from drummer Takeo Moriyama whose  steady, sophisticated and unfussy style was perfect for his unique and inimitable style of composition.

When Takeo Moriyama returned with his My Dear album in 1982, pianist Fumio Itabashi was absent. He was recording and promoting his solo album Watarase. While the absence of Fumio Itabash was loss to Takeo Moriyama’s band, the bandleader knew that his pianist might not return for the followup Fast Plants.

East Plants.

By 1983, thirty-eight year old Takeo Moriyama was regarded as one of Japan’s finest jazz drummers.  He had been a musician since the sixties and was a vastly experienced drummer who  had .just signed to the Japanese VAP label. They would release Takeo Moriyama’s solo album East Plants later in 1983. 

East Plants featured six tracks, but only one Takeo Moriyama’s composition Kagelou. The rest of the album was written by saxophonist Toshihiko Inoue, and recorded  at CBS-Sony Roppongi Studio, in Tokyo.

Joining drummer Takeo Moriyama was bassist Hideaki Mochizuki, percussionist Yoji Sadanari plus Shuichi Enomoto and Toshihiko Inoue who switched between tenor and soprano saxophone on East Plants. Once the album was completed the release of East Plants was scheduled for later in 1983.

Sadly, when East Plants was released in 1983, the album passed record buyers. They missed out on what was later regarded as a J Jazz cult classic.

That was no surprise given East Plants featured several key features of Takeo Moriyama’s music. There’s the clearly connected and innovative rhythms, grooves that are accessible, balanced, controlled and elegant, while the arrangements are best described as open and orderly East Plants.

With no piano, the rhythm section are joined by  percussion and saxophones . They open the album with the title-track East Plants. Its build-up is similar to a raga as a mesmeric track unfolds and is one of East Plants’ highlights. There’s an urgency to Take where the band play with power and freedom as the saxophone plays a starring role. Kaze Kaze majestic example of modal jazz, while the ferocious post bop exertions of Fields is one of East Plants highlights.

Thirty-eight years East Plants after was release it’s an album that is highly prized by collectors of J-Jazz and is regarded as one of Takeo Moriyama’s finest albums. He’s joined by talented quintet on the album and they showcase their talent and versatility on the album. Each member of this multitalented quintet play their part in the sound and success of East Plants, which is Takeo Moriyama’s mystical sounding  opus which until recently, was an oft-overlooked hidden gem that is now regarded as a J-Jazz cult classic

Cult Classic: Takeo Moriyama-East Plants.


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