Guitarist and Crusader-in-charge Katsumi Tanaka assumed a challenging task in concocting this project. Not only did Japan’s deep and diverse repertoire of folk songs deserve renewed public attention, he felt, it needed to be brought down from the highbrow pedestal on which preservationists had placed it. Were that not enough, Tanaka-san got the notion to fuse these old-school, working-class izakaya standards from the sticks with comparably populist styles from around the world — reggae, cumbia, boogaloo, Ethiopian soul-jazz and more. Delivered by a team of top-shelf players from Japan’s high-standard jazz and ska scenes, the outcome is greater than the sum of its components — bright, sweet, startlingly fresh and yet somehow comfortably familiar.
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