At The Room 427 (BBE)

Koichi Matsukaze Trio featuring Ryojiro Furusawa

Released January 2022

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review




The ninth album in BBE Music’s J Jazz Masterclass Series presents ‘At the Room 427’ by Koichi Matsukaze Trio Featuring Ryojiro Furusawa, a rarely heard exemplar of post-modal power bop and free jazz.
Delivered by a trio playing with an intensity and energy that draws on classic Eric Dolphy and mid-era Coltrane but definitely with its own particular vibe, At the Room 427 is an exemplar of febrile improvised jazz that could only come from Japan.
This deluxe reissue sees a welcome return to the J Jazz Masterclass series for saxophonist Koichi Matsukaze. Originally issued in 1976 on the cult ALM label, At the Room 427 is the debut album from one of the most exciting and forward-thinking instrumentalists to emerge in the mid 1970s. Matsukaze’s distinctively angular, deconstructive style adds an unpredictable quality to the session that is balanced by the muscular bass of Koichi Yamazaki and the kinetic drumming of Ryojiro Furusawa, who provides a sound footing for Matuskaze’s fiery solos and free-form chemistry.
The album opens with the epic Acoustic Chicken, a 20-minute tour de force of dynamic and explosive interplay. Featured on J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan volume 3 and written by Furusawa, Acoustic Chicken’s strong melody lines and scorching sax finely mesh with the driving rhythm section. Furusawa’s Elvin Jones-like rolls and batteries of percussion are underpinned by Yamazaki’s driving and rounded bass.
At the Room 427 also includes a radical deconstruction of the Billie Holiday classic Lover Man and three more original compositions by Matsukaze. The album was recorded live in November 1975 before a small audience in – as the title states – Room 427, a classroom in Chuo University, the alma mater of both Matsukaze and Furusawa. However, despite the rudimentary surroundings, the recording by Yukio Kojima, founder of ALM, manages to give the listener the feeling of being in the room itself, up close to the band, bristling with an intense energy.
This reissue of a long-lost rarity of post-bop/free playing maintains the exceptionally high standard set by the previous releases in the BBE Music J Jazz Masterclass Series. As with all releases in the series, At the Room 427 comes with full reproduction artwork and extra sleeve notes, with artist interviews and biographies.

Track Listing:

1. Acoustic Chicken (Ryojiro Furusawa) 20:02

2. Theme Of Seikatsu Kojyo Iinkai (Koichi Matsukaze) 7:44

3. Little Drummer (Koichi Matsukaze) 11:31

4. Lover Man (David / Sherman / Ramirez) 10:40

5. Theme Of Seikatsu Kojyo Iinkai (alternate version) (Koichi Matsukaze) 1:06


Koichi Matsukaze: saxophone

Koichi Yamazaki: bass

Ryojiro Furusawa: drums

Recorded live November 2, 1975, at Chuo University Hakumonsai, by Keisuke Yoshida

Lacquer Cut and Mastered by Frank Merritt

Artwork: Eddie Otchere

Graphic Design: Jake Holloway


The Barely Breaking Even label has released a trio of killer compilations of Japanese jazz the last few years, and supplemented those with reissues of noteworthy individual albums, most of them impossibly rare collectors’ items. Saxophonist Koichi Matsukaze’s At The Room 427, originally recorded in November 1975 and released the following year on the tiny ALM label, is the latest, and it’s a true unearthed gem. Matsukaze is a powerful player whose full tone and fierce blowing may bring to mind Arthur Blythe or other figures of the contemporaneous New York loft scene. He’s teamed here with bassist Koichi Yamazaki and drummer Ryojiro Furusawa, each of whom matches his energy throughout. The opening track, “Acoustic Chicken,” closed out the third volume of the J Jazz series. It runs over 20 minutes, and includes a thunderous drum solo from Furusawa, doubtless the reason he gets a credit on the album cover. That’s followed by a very short version of “Theme Of Seikatsu Kojyo Iinkai,” a squawking solo interlude that builds to a funky, high-energy theme but fades out too quickly. The album’s second side features two hard-swinging numbers, the Matsukaze original “Little Drummer” and a version of the standard “Lover Man.” Everything winds down with a second, nearly eight-minute version of “Theme Of Seikatsu Kojyo Iinkai.” Ultimately, this is a revelation, as fierce and exciting as anything being played at Studio Rivbea or anywhere else in New York at the time.

Philip Freeman (DownBeat)