Photo by Yoshitaka Kogawa
Japan's jazz masters back at Fuji!
Being a great fan of jazz music, it was an almost non-stop day of great jazz music for me at Fuji Rock on Sunday. Right in the middle of this jazzy goodness was Japan’s jazz heavyweights, Soil & Pimp Sessions. They’ve been playing together over 15 years now and have brought youth and excitement back into the jazz genre. Soil & Pimp initially started doing their thing in their home grounds of Tokyo and have since made it around the world, playing festivals and shows year round. Most recently, earlier this month they were in Canada on their first country wide tour. No doubt Soil & Pimp were able to show the great white north how to get down with “Death Jazz”.
Soil and Pimp are certainly no strangers to the festival circuit in Japan. They’ve played all the major summer festivals in Japan and even most of the minor ones too. They played Fuji Rock as recently as 3 years ago and have performed on various different stages in past editions of Fuji too. I’ve seen the group perform multiple times myself, but they’re still one of the few groups I actively search out to see live again and again. Part of the reason for this is their session approach to playing a live show.
Soil and Pimp treat each live show as a specific session where anything can and does happen. No two live shows are the same. So while this 50 minute set on the White Stage, mid-afternoon, wasn’t one of the best sessions I’ve seen from them, largely due to time restrains. It was still highly entertaining and one of the better sets I watched all weekend.
The set featured mainly tracks off their most recent albums, Black Track and Brothers & Sisters. As usual, their agitator/front man Shacho was sharply dressed and enthusiastic both on the mic and on his trademark megaphone. Shacho expressed the band’s sentiment of excitement to be back at Fuji Rock and that the summer sun was out to further add to the massive vibes a Soil & Pimp set induces.
Soil and Pimp Sessions thrive when they’ve given a bit more time to solo, play off each other and react with the crowd, so I thought 50 minutes was a bit short for really getting into their groove. That said, there was still time for their virtuosic brassmen, Motoharu and Tabu Zombie to deliver a spectacle on sax and trumpet respectively. This session even saw their pianist, Josei join in on the fun dropping a few delicate and curious piano solos into the mix to the delight of everyone in attendance.
The crowd was feeling the vibe from early on and seemed more than keen to join the Soil & Pimp boys for a joyous, jazzy dance party in the summer sun. For the group to end with an extended, raucous version of their hit “Summer Goddess” just seemed like the right thing to do. Their set wouldn’t have been complete without that tune on this day, just as an anniversary for Fuji Rock wouldn’t feel the same without Soil & Pimp Sessions rocking a crowd.