Photo by Masahiro Saito
Japan's top tastemaker in action
As one of the final acts to play Fuji Rock this year, it can be tough to know what kind of crowd will still be kicking around on the final night of the fest at 2am. Luckily for Okino and the Palace of Wonder, this Kyoto Jazz Massive alumna knows a thing or two about rocking a party, he’s been doing it the last 25 years. Whether through his weekly radio show, JAZZ ain’t Jazz, playing with his super talented jazz collective, Kyoto Jazz Massive, or by simply playing out music on a couple of turntables, Okino brings the party every time.
I view Okino as a kind of Japanese version of Gilles Peterson, a tastemaker and promoter of all things funky, jazzy, feel good and easy to dance to. It’s no surprise the pair have worked together multiple times, the last time being earlier this year when they brought the fabled Sun Ra Arkestra to Tokyo.
His hour long set consisted of mainly 60s and 70s rare groove, funk and soul. You know, all the good stuff to make you get up and shake something. So even though there were more than a few weary looking souls at the start of his set, by the end the whole place was grooving.
It was actually one of my favorite sets of the weekend from one of my favorite Japanese DJs. You’re always guaranteed to hear great new music from all over the world whenever you listen to Okino, be it a brand new tune yet to released or a 50 year old forgotten gem waiting to be rediscovered.
If you’ve never heard a Shuya Okino set, I urge you to do so. You can start this Thursday with his JAZZ ain’t Jazz radio show, just don’t blame me when the downstairs neighbors get on your case about your late night dance moves.