The Genius of Kaoru Abe
Going back to the current October theme of discussing vital Japanese musicians, this article features a prominent look at avant-garde saxophonist Kaoru Abe. Abe was a significant part of the experimental avante-garde free jazz genre, pushing the genre forward with his powerful sax and writing. Abe began as a self-taught musician in the late 1960s and 1970s who dropped out of school at 17, using his time to focus on his playing while performing his first show in 1968 at a jazz club called the Oreo.
Abe was a part of the avante-garde movement in Japan, a movement throughout the 20th century that prided itself on the critique of existing artistic customs, dismissal of the status quo in favor of uncommon or unconventional components, and the intention of consciously summoning or antagonizing audiences.
Abe was a prolific artist who played a show at a jazz club almost every single day, with most of his recorded music being live performances from his shows. Though, Abe has a few studio albums in his life that are available for purchase today. Abe is looked back on as a perfectionist and innovator of the saxophone, playing with incredible speed while erupting unique voicings and sounds most sax-players weren’t able to do in the 1970s.
Later in his career, Abe experimented heavily with his sound by learning other instruments to encompass his recordings. During his exploration, Abe sadly passed in 1978 from a bromisoval overdose at the age of 29. Having such a short career, Abe accomplished more and pushed the envelope further than most musicians are able to even get a sniff of.
Above is a bootleg recording of Abe from 1974 that was re-released to the public in 2004. Upon listening, be sure to take a closer examination at Abe’s compelling and other-worldly playing that’ll sure shock your eardrums as something you’ve never heard before. His music is quite remarkable and will be looked back on for years to come.
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