The importance of jazz in Japan has been huge since the withdrawal of the American troops in 1952. Where the other countries celebrated rock’n’roll and later squealed to the Beatles, the Japanese paid homage to Horace Silver or Art Blakey. They wanted to dress like their American role models, they wanted to sound like them. By the end of the 1960s at the latest, they were up to it. In its J Jazz Masterclass Series, the British label BBE Records has traced the development since then in several compilations and reissues. But with »First«, saxophonist Kohsuke Mine’s 1970 debut, they have now been able to release another highlight of the period. Back on vinyl for the first time since the original. The quartet – alongside Kōsuke Mine, pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, and Americans Larry Ridley and Lenny McBrowne on bass and drums – is fully present from the first moment. »Morning Tide« lets the initially fractious waves of sound ebb away over eleven minutes. The musicians are allowed to show what they can do: loud, quiet, dynamic, static, alone and collectively. Their skills are above all else. »Love Talken« keeps the tempo high throughout. With »Straight No Chaser« they interpret a well-known number by Thelonious Monk, where Masabumi Kikuchi can show his virtuosity. The title of »McPhee« is reminiscent of the saxophonist Joe McPhee. The piece was written by Larry Ridley, who himself played with Monk, Horace Silver or Donald Byrd. The record, it becomes clear here at the latest, does not live from innovation, but from perfect imitation. Even if »Little Abibi«, with its shimmering electric piano tones, is already looking in the direction of fusion, hard bop and modal jazz are the determining parameters right up to the end of »Barl L Len«.