Osamu Inoue – Mini Interview

1. Where are you from and how did you start playing music?

I’m from Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan.  When I was 16, a good friend of mine started a band that played classic British Rock music like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.  He couldn’t find a bassist for his band and he asked me.  I agreed to join and played bass on rock songs during my high school days.  From this experience, I realized that playing music in front of audiences was really exciting.       

2. How did you first get into jazz?

My interest in music expanded a lot during my high school days.  Back then I listened to many different kinds of music on the radio, like Japanese pop, rhythm & blues, soul, funk, salsa and jazz.  At that time, I had a favorite radio show that used a really nice Brazilian song as its introduction theme, and they used a Fender Rhodes keyboard.  Its vibrato sound was really amazing and I really liked it.  Also, as a bass player, I taught myself by listening to bass legends, and I came to know Jaco Pastorius.  His sound on “Teen Town” in Weather Report’s “8:30” and on “Dona Lee” in his debut album was amazing.  I later learned that “Dona Lee” is a jazz classic written by one of the giants of jazz, Charlie Parker, and after that I started to listen to older styles of jazz.  When I became a university student in Sapporo, I met a great tenor saxophone player in town and I eventually switched my instrument from the bass to the sax.

3. What is Transient City? What’s the new trio album about?

Transient City is a jazz quartet which mainly plays my compositions.  Its members are me (Osamu Inoue) on tenor saxophone, Yasushi Karasawa on the Rhodes, Yosuke Hase on drums, and Yoshimasa Otsuka on bass.

Transient City has released two albums; “Transient City” and “Psychedelic Jazz.”  The song called “Psychedelic Jazz” was selected as a Readers’ Pick in 2012 in Tokyo Jazz Notes.  If you want to know more about this album, please check Tokyo Jazz Note’s website.

Our new trio, TC Trio, is a jazz group which mainly plays jazz standards instead of original compositions.  Also, TC Trio focuses more on improvisation than Transient City.  TC Trio’s members are the same as Transient City except that we don’t have a drummer.

4. I heard you are lawyer by day and musician by night: is it hard to balance these two careers?

That’s true. I only perform live on weekends and holidays .  My frequent frustration has been finding enough time to practice.  But I finally renovated half of the garage in my house into a small music studio.  I can practice my instrument in there anytime while also being able to spend time with my son, so it’s much better now.   

5. Your three favorite albums.

It’s a tough question.  Obviously, there are so many albums that I admire, but I think my favorites definitely are:

a. Joe Henderson, “Power To The People”

b. Lee Konitz, “At Storyville 1954”

c. Count Basie And His Orchestra Featuring Lester Young, “Lester Leaps In”

You can hear one from TC Trio’s latest on OK Jazz Episode 55.

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Mr. OK Jazz is a 20+ year resident of Japan and spends all his free time wandering the Kanto area looking for jazz cafes, bars, clubs and record stores. For two years he hosted the OK Jazz radio show on InterFM Radio, currently the OK Jazz podcast. You can reach him at *protected email*