Soil & "Pimp" Sessions - Now We Are 6 with Shacho
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As regular readers will not need reminding, Jap Jazz is such an influential part of the UK jazz scene jigsaw over the years so when the latest leaders from the land of the rising sun visit our shores, we need to get to grips with Soil & “Pimp” Sessions.
Sitting in the Jazz Café when the Soil & “Pimp” Sessions are sound checking prior to tonight’s gig, the band’s “Agitator” finishes interview after interview so by the time I get to ask him (for the umpteenth time that day), “Where did the name Soil & “Pimp” Sessions come from?” I thought from his expression that I could have done a bit better there; bearing in mind the English translation of Shacho is President!
However, this is Shacho and he’s got one of the best jobs in the world so he didn’t seem that unhappy as he explained that the concept of Soil & “Pimp” Sessions come from the contrast of the soil (being the earth/grounded) and pimp as is bad or Hip-Hop gangster imagery; “think of Soil & Pimp as a jazz Yin and Yang”, he says.
Now that works for me as these guys are punk jazz exponents of the highest calibre. In fact there is no better and we’re talking proper jazz musicians and the ‘punk’ tag is only relevant in a “pimp” definition; pimp jazz with attitude if you like.
Anyway, Shacho was happy to agree that he did have one of the best jobs in the world, “Yeah! I think so (he laughs). I’d been DJing 7/8 years and experimenting with samplers, poetry (Japanese and English) and when the machine broke, I had to perform”.
So that’s how you get to be an Agitator (I forgot to ask if that he’s got in his passport as occupation) but how did they get to sign for Victor Entertainment in Japan? Again he says, “I don’t know” and laughs but then admits “The Company Director is a big fan and comes to their gigs the band’s t-shirt”.
Don’t forget, this is a part of the JVC Empire so he must be a big fan. Shacho says there is no other band like S&P on Victor Entertainment and the same goes for their European label, Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings. “Brownswood is such a big name in Japan. We respect UFO (original Japanese Acid Jazz pioneers signed to Gilles’ previous label Talkin’ Loud who that released loads of the highly influential albums including the Jap Jazz compilation Brownswood Workshop: Multidirection in 1994), they were the first band from Japan to go Worldwide” but more of UFO later.
The band are current in the UK on tour after the release of their 6th album, oddly call 6 that makes an average of an album a year since their debut in 2004. I’d say each one has been better than the previous one, but here are Shacho’s abbreviated highlights.
“Two years before the debut album Pimpin’ was released we were working on the track ‘Impulsive’ so that’s like the grass roots of Soil & “Pimp” Sessions”. Pimpin’ was followed by Pimp Master “This was a milestone as it was the first Gilles Peterson released and our first trip to London, ‘Waltz For Goddess’ is my favourite track”.
Up next was Pimp Of The Year where he says they concentrated on improving their compositions and Pimpoint is the one with their version of Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Red Clay’ on it.
Planet Pimp was another part of the evolution with new synths, EFX and over dubbing which gets us up-to-date with 6 and he says his favourite track is the “Disco Jazz” of ‘Miller Boy” (with a bit of ska if you ask me).
And whilst we’re on the subject of albums, are there any more albums planned by the S&P trio offshoot J.A.M.? “Just Another Mind was released a coupled months ago in Japan” which nicely brought me around to Just A Maestro (Did you see what they did there?) that featured DJ Mitsu the Beats and 6 that features DJ Kentaro although I confess, something got lost in translation but Shacho said both DJ/Producers are his mates.
Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how they got to do a version of ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag’ on 6 and he confirms, “That was Gilles Peterson’s suggestion”. And the collaboration with Jamie Cullum? “We met at the Electric Proms show at the Roundhouse and then there was a party in Japan, Soil & “Pimp” Sessions present Jamie Cullum and we recorded ‘Stolen Moments’ after that” And although ‘Stolen Moments’ is another one of Peterson’s favourite tracks, from the S&P position, they look to United Future Organization’s version as heritage (check out No Sound Is Too Taboo on Brownswood Records/Talkin’ Loud from 1993) and, as an aside, who was at the first UFO London gig? Nik Weston no less, see our 2005 interview HERE).
I said in my review “The album ends with another ‘twist’, the Psych-jazz-trash of ‘Satsuriku To Heiwa’ that’s yet another grower”, is this going to be the direction of Soil & “Pimp” Sessions’ 7th album? “That’s a secret” he says intriguingly.
Hopefully, there’s more killers like ‘Pop Korn’ but as the competition for going out in London Town tonight was Earth Wind & Fire (at the O2 with a new Greatest Hits album out this week), before I could say another word “Really! I’m going (laughs)”. Of course he isn’t as there’s no time to get comfy as next stop is WOMAD tomorrow, “Tomorrow it’s going to rain?” I assured him it wasn’t but as this is the first time they’ve appeared at WOMAD I could tell he was excited.
And where would he recommend going in Japan, “Sunset is amazing, amazing audience and it’s on the beach with the sunset” And they are there this years. Sounds sort of sounds like a Far East version on Peterson’s Sete event in the south of France. And as said Mr. Peterson has just returned from this years’ bash and advised a listener to his Radio 1 show last week when asked to recommend a record store “Just go to Shibuya and ask them there where to find record shops”. For a more informed view, here’s a couple that Shacho recommends, “Shimo - kitazawa is the best shop and sells clothing and for Jazzy Sport Gakugei - Daigaku”.
If you are going to Japan, your first stop is to find out what these guys are up to (check the links below) but when they do get back they’ll be starting on their next album.
I promised not to mention the ‘punk’ thing but if you listen to 6 every track (apart from the intro) proves their jazz credentials and for completeness, if you think the album covers are a little bit “odd”, they are meant to be like that - don’t forget the Soil & “Pimp” Sessions ethos.
With thanks to all that helped getting this together (Gerry, Dan, Emily), the mighty Shacho and the rest of the band Tabu Zombie (Trumpet), Motoharu (Saxophone), Josei (Piano), Akita Goldman (Bass) and Midorin (Drums) and I can’t wait to see these guys again: the real Godfathers of yin and yang jazz - brilliant!
P.S. As I left the venue last night, yep - it was raining.
Phot by: gerry.hectic
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Soil & "Pimp" Sessions - Now We Are 6 with Shacho
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