Osamu Ichikawa | In New York

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Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Jazz: Bebop Moods: Featuring Piano
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In New York

by Osamu Ichikawa

Jazz piano, traditional jazz combo featuring blues, bebop, and Latin jazz with feeling.
Genre: Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Alone Together
6:31 album only
2. This Is No Laughing Matter
5:22 album only
3. Brother Patato
6:46 album only
4. Embraceable You
4:33 album only
5. Like Someone in Love
8:30 album only
6. Round Midnight
9:05 album only
7. Tenderly
7:39 album only
8. Please Send Me Someone to Love
7:20 album only
9. Ed 'tiger' Lewis
5:27 album only
10. You Don't Know What Love Is
9:29 album only
11. Blues For Conversation
5:22 album only


Album Notes
Osamu Ichikawa : In New York

Piano / Flute : OSAMU ICHIKAWA

Recording Engineer : DAVID BAKER
Recording Date : JUNE 1st.2000

Osamu Ichikawa was born in Kyoto in 1949.
He started to play the flute in a brass band when he was a junior high school student. He switched to the piano when he entered high school and made his professional debut when he was in college. He went up to Tokyo in 1972, and performed at clubs such as the Pit Inn as a band leader.

He went to the United States three times, in 1975, 1980 and 1986. In Harlem, New York, he played with musicians such as Greg Bandy, Jimmy Ponder, Don Pate, Eddie Moore, Ernestine Anderson and Toots Thielemans.

Ichikawa played with his roommate, C Sharp, a legendary alto saxophonist. He deeply loved and respected blues and believed in playing passionately. He had great respect for black pianists such as Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.

He played at clubs in Tokyo and in the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe area in a trio, a quartet and in the Ichikawa Yoshie Band. He played with a bassist Hideji Taninaka and black musicians such as Zane Massey, Sadic Abdushahid, Ed Lewis and Dennis Charles.

His discography includes his leader album The Original from King Records, The Monk, Criss Cross, Ed “Tiger” Lewis Memorial Album and Osamu in New York from Nippon blue note Records.

On January 13, 2006, he was admitted to an emergency room suffering from a subarachnoid hemorrhage. He passed away on January 31.

Osamu Ichikawa – A Jazz Man Through and Through
By Masuhiro Fujimori

He was a jazz man from through and through. I still cannot believe that Osamu Ichikawa has passed away so suddenly. He was full of intensity and sweetness. My time with him was too short. We met and parted in only six and a half years.
I can clearly remember, as if it was yesterday, how shocked and moved I was when I saw Osamu-san (as I prefer to call him) play in person for the first time at the blue note, a jazz club in Kyoto, in the fall of 1999. There he was, a man in his fifties devoting himself completely to jazz. As I saw him play I could not help but be moved to tears. The first time we became friends right away. Since then I have often visited the blue note to hear him, or rather to see him. As we became closer, I was possessed with the idea of writing a novel with Osamu-san and his wife, Yoshie-san, a jazz singer, as the main characters. In June 2004, I published a book entitled Monk through Bungeishunju Ltd. In fall of the same year, the CD SUK MI (pronounced sun-mi) was released. This was a recording of a live performance at the blue note commemorating the publication of the book. In March of the following year, Osamu-san, Yoshie-san and other musicians gave a truly swinging performance in front of a packed house in a commemorative live concert at the Pit Inn in Tokyo’s Shinjuku. My friendship with Osamu-san, which I intended to continue for the rest of my life, was abruptly severed, not even a year after the live performance.

Around noon on January 14, 2006, I found an e-mail on my computer from Chooper-san (Ohigashi Hisao), the owner of the blue note. Before noon on the previous day, Osamu-san had suffered a sudden subarachnoid hemorrhage at home. He fell unconscious and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance. He underwent a major operation that lasted for more than seven hours. His life was just barely saved but he was still in a critical condition. When I read the message I first thought it was a bad joke. It was natural for me to think that way because I had seen him in high sprits a month before. I could not believe that he was in such bad health.

The following week, I met with Chooper-san at Kyoto Station on the way from work in Osaka. We headed for the hospital in front of Kitano Tenmangu where Osamu-san was. Yoshie-san showed us into an intensive care unit and I saw Osamu-san sleeping in bed. I found myself calling to him, “Osamu-san.” Of course, there was no answer. According to Yoshie-san, at one time Osamu-san’s fingers began to move although he was unconscious, as if he was playing the piano. Even in such a state, jazz was echoing in his body.
On January 31, less than three weeks after he suffered the attack, he peacefully ended his life of 56 years. He never regained consciousness.
On the morning of that day, I happened to be in Osaka on business. I called Yoshie-san a little before noon to ask after Osamu-san. She told me that he had breathed his last a little while before and that she had just brought him back home. My voice failed me for a while. I felt my hand shaking as I was holding my cell phone. I immediately set off for Osamu-san’s place in Kyoto.
Osamu-san was lying on a futon laid out on the floor in a detached room, in which he used to work and teach. He looked fashionable with a tie, which his daughters gave him as a gift, and a chic jacket on. He had a faint smile, which was so gentle and peaceful, as if he was feeling satisfied after enduring the painful battle while his strength lasted.
I last saw him a month ago in the same room. There was a plan to use him playing an original piece in a television commercial for whiskey. I made a day trip to Osamu-san’s in Kyoto from Tokyo with a music producer to record a demo.
In the center of the room was a grand piano. One of the walls was covered with shelves full of his favorite jazz LPs. Music sheets were scattered here and there. It was a disorderly room but so much like Osamu-san who was so immersed in music. He played some tunes in the room, and we recorded them. The plan was subsequently cancelled and we could not broadcast his performance on TV, but the demo became my treasure.

On February 3, a gathering to bid farewell to Osamu-san was held at a ceremonial hall across the street from Kyoto Station. About 300 people attended the service. Frankly, I did not expect to see so many people because I never saw a crowd of more than 30 at his gigs. Of course, blue note does not have 30 seats. On one occasion, at another club in Kyoto, I was the only member of the audience for a duo performance of Osamu-san and Yoshie-san. Looking back, it may have been the most opulent experience.
As Takeko Naka played a hymn, Osamu-san’s funeral began. Following the minister’s words and an offering of flowers, a few dozen jazz musicians living in the Kansai Region took solos in turns on a stage that was set up in the hall. They all played as if they were talking to Osamu-san’s passionate soul. As the warm atmosphere of the musicians gradually filled the air, the mourners, who first listened in silence, began to keep time by clapping. I was made to realize that he was loved so dearly by so many fans and his music colleagues.
After the service was over, the coffin in which Osamu-san rested was carried by his friends, who marched led by a band playing Dixieland to the lobby of the hall just like a funeral march in the streets of New Orleans. The march stopped in the lobby and the band continued to play. Nobody moved to place the coffin in the hearse that was waiting at the entrance. I felt everybody’s feelings so much that it almost hurt. It was a truly moving farewell gathering.

I know of no other jazz musician who loved jazz as much as Osamu-san. Nobody enjoyed himself and entertained others as much as he did. Many times I saw him walk up to strangers in the audience who came to hear him or to the musicians he was playing with, start talking about jazz and fall deep into conversation.
What appealed to me about his jazz, in a word, was its feeling of “swing,” which was rare. His playing was completely free and wild, and at the same time, he always tried to establish a sense of togetherness and solidarity between him and each player, as well as the audience. Jazz as a musical format is an expression that enables the restoration of humanity by attaining freedom and harnessing the cooperative spirit of individuals in this generation of lost energy, which is embodied though the force of “swing.” Osamu-san’s jazz was filled with “swing.” You cannot find this kind of a jazz person so easily. He is completely devoted to jazz. He trusts it and is immersed in it. This is why I call him a jazz man through and through. And, I have nothing but anger for God for having mercilessly and suddenly taken him away from us.
Osamu-san, we wanted to hear you play in person much more. We wanted to see you play full of life and be inspired and solaced by your jazz. But must we resign ourselves to the fact that it is not to be, and that we now have no choice but to listen to you only on the CDs left behind, while we recall your face and voice?
Before I say good-bye to you, thank you, Ichikawa Osamu-san, and take care of yourself in heaven.



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