Tokyo Bossa Nova Lounge , a Brazilian and Oriental mix that will leave you satisfied

If Brazil is the home of bossa nova, then Japan can be considered a second home.  For decades it has produced a large number of artists and albums, in the process forming a prominent subculture in the world of bossa nova. This has often produced two varieties of music. One resembles the original bossa nova of Brazil in every way but name, while the other incorporates new elements, usually with an oriental flavor.  Tokyo bossa nova lounge is a collection of both types, though the former tends to dominate.


Tokyo Bossa Nova Lounge

Released in 2004, under the Teichiku Records, it is a 24 track collection of songs from the golden era of Japanese bossa nova; the 1960’s. The selection is a varied one, with no artist’s or group’s name being repeated more than once on the track list. Another observation one would make of the track list would be the inclusion of bossa nova standards such as Summer Samba and Agua De Berber. These set of titles may be the only ones familiar, or comprehendible, to fans of bossa nova outside of Japan as the rest are Japanese originals.

Musically, the album is similar to its Brazilian counterparts with the expected set of instruments and good arrangements. The first track “O Ganso” is a collection of vocal rhythms song in chorus with a tinge of the big band sound. It instantly introduces one to vintage Japanese bossa nova and that is where one remains for the entire listening experience. The feeling of a trippy journey to the past is one that runs through the entire length of the album, there are unique departures on this journey though.

“The joker” by purple’s shadows is a perfect example of this. Though clearly bossa nova in composition, the song seems like one that would sit well alongside any song from the Beach Boys’ catalogue. Complete with a groovy guitar riff, smooth vocal harmonies and carefree lyrics – it is an uncanny highpoint.

For non-Japanese fans of bossa nova, “Tokyo Bossa Nova Lounge” will be as much an enjoyable listening experience as it will be an educative one. The collection is done is produced in such a way that it sounds familiar, but still manages to be completely fresh. Keeping the listeners interest across 24 tracks is not an easy task, however it is managed chiefly due to a well-balanced line up of songs that offer the same nostalgic feel but are otherwise musically diverse. A nice balance of ying and yang.

01 – kiyoko itoh & the happenings four – o ganso

02 – ruriko asaoka – siam-neko wo daite

03 – akira terao – kaze mo nai gogo no samba

04 – toi et moi – white waves

05 – the modern playing mate – day by day

06- Nemuritainosa

07 – kaori kumi – kami ga yureteiru

08 – keisuke egusa – call me

09 – ryoko moriyama – ameagari no samba

10 – kazumi yasui – warui kuse

11 – kiyoshi hasegawa – tomeina hitotoko

12 – hiroshi matsumoto – agua de beber

13 – purple shadows – the joker

14 – akira terao – anata no kotoga

15 – tami masuda – yattsu no omoide

16 – hiroshi matsumoto – meditation

17 – kyoko enami – sayonara mo ienakute

18 – hiroshi kamayatsu et al – when we were 20 years old

19 – masami kawahara – mas que nada

20 – kyoko okada – donnafuni

21 – kyosen ohashi – koryamata minasa hyakumenso

22 – sumiko sakamoto – for me

23 – ryoko moriyama – akogare wa tsubasa ni notte

24 – keisuke egusa – summer samba (so nice)