Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Takayanagi, Masayuki

Takayanagi, Masayuki, guitarist, composer, b. Tokyo, Japan, 22 December 1932, d. 23 June 1991.

Along with bassist Hideto Kanai, Takayanagi was the force behind the emergence of the avant-garde in Japan. He was the voice of the jazz community's artistic conscience, constantly exhorting the Japanese to quit emulating each new American trend and develop their own creative voices. Comfortable with both classical and jazz styles, Takayanagi performed at US servicemen's clubs with Hampton Hawes, Sadao Watanabe, and Toshiko Akiyoshi before starting his New Direction Quartet in 1954. When he and Kanai started the Jazz Academy in 1960, they published a mission statement in Swing Journal in which they proclaimed the need to develop new jazz independent of American precedents.

The Academy and its successor, the New Century Music Workshop, demanded the spiritual and moral as well as musical development of its members. His Jazz Contemporary and Angry Wave groups combined free jazz and orthodox principles. In spite of drug and health problems, "Jo-Jo," as he was known, remained a consistently energetic force on the scene until his death.

The Smile I Love (1992); Reason for Being (1992); Call in Question (1994); Live Independence (1995); April is the Cruellest Month


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