Ryo Kawasaki


Mr Bongo • 1976

YouTube stuffs Japanese funk into the autoplay algorithm – and nobody gives a toss. Ryo Kawasaki’s »Juice« went online two years ago, and since then almost 1.4 million people have clicked on the 38 minutes of jazz funk. Not bad for an album that was rushed through the mixing desk onto tape in a New York studio almost 50 years ago. Ryo Kawasaki had been living in the Big Apple for three years at the time. He played guitar together with Joe Lee Wilson at the Newport Jazz Festival. With Gil Evans he got the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Bobbi Humphrey signed him up for her band. Despite all this, he was to release a record of his own in 1976: »Juice«. The cover portrays a half-peeled orange. Coloured wires glitter in the form of fruit flesh. Those of you who have never bought an album for the cover artwork alone, raise your pickup arm. The tracks – between the funkiness of Herbi Hancock’s »Head Hunters« and Donald Byrd’s »Street Lady« – jockey for the pole position for one of the best jazz-funk albums of its day. No wonder »Juice« is on every crate digger’s wish list. Diamond D and Puff Daddy already knew this in the nineties. Meanwhile, YouTube has followed suit. And Mr. Bongo pours us some real juice with the first vinyl release since 1976.