On 'LOVEPLAYDANCE', legendary Tokyo DJ and producer Toshio Matsuura charts a new direction. Casting musical cornerstones in a fresh light, the Toshio Matsuura Group features Tom Skinner (drummer for Sons of Kemet and Owiny Sigoma Band amongst others) as its musical director, as well as some of the UK's most exciting jazz-influenced musicians. Drawing on years of surveying and curating different corners of music, Matsuura deftly combines this talented pool of players into one singular, wide-ranging album.
A co-founder of Japan's United Future Organisation (aka U.F.O.), this new record sees Matsuura reconnect with longstanding friend and collaborator Gilles Peterson. Releasing the album via Brownswood Recordings in the UK, it's a continuation of a relationship which started as a bridge between London's then-blossoming jazz scene and Tokyo's new musical vanguard of the early '90s. This album continues that two-way dialogue between Japan and the UK.
The project is focused on covers, putting classic or influential tracks in a new context, spanning a cross-section of Matsuura's taste. On 'Black Gold of the Sun', Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena fronts a new take on the Rotary Connection classic, along with a band - guided by Tom Skinner - that features her prodigious Havana-based players. Elsewhere, Byron Morris and Unity's 'Kitty Bey', a Dingwalls classic, is knocked into a tight, high energy new shape (by a band that includes Yussef Dayes, Yazz Ahmed and Nubya Garcia.)
The scope of the music reflects the breadth of Matsuura's interests. It ranges from Bugges Wesseltoft's Detroit-influenced, dancefloor-minded jazz, stretched out into a more meditative contemplation, to Flying Lotus' LA-rooted, Brainfeeder beatmaking, translated from laptop-to-live, given a new, equally idiosyncratic lease of life. Elsewhere, Carl Craig's iconic 'At Les' is taken in a looser direction, the overtones of euphoria cast in a different hue.
They're touchpoints which hint at interests in the different, diffuse corners of electronic music, and how they connect to jazz and improvisation. Coming to this project from the perspective of a DJ, producer and curator, it's an album that shows his grasp of the bigger picture. This album shows him finding the threads which connect those different scenes together, exploring a to-and-fro - between live, played instruments, and the possibilities found in laptops and samplers - which has long been a backdrop to music aimed at dancefloors.