Song of the Week – Sayonara, Akiko Yano

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Back in the mid-‘70s, a 21-year-old, Japanese jazz pianist, Akiko Yano, was in the midst of recording her first solo album with the Japanese group Caramel Mama, when someone suggested she work with some western rock musicians.

She liked the idea… if she could work with an American rock group that she really adored – Lowell George’s Little Feat.  Little Feat agreed to the gig and met her at Hollywood Sound Studio in Los Angeles for the recording session.

The resulting album, Japanese Girl (1976), has Little Feat on side 1 and her Japanese accompanists on side 2.  My pick for the SotW is “Sayonara.”

“Sayonara” immediately grabs you with its sexy, funky groove.  MOJO’s Jim Irvin writes:

The album opens, paradoxically, with Sayonara, introduced by what sounds like the unmistakable New Orleans lope of Bill Payne’s piano.  Except that it’s Akiko who plays all the keyboards on the record.  Halfway through, the song dissolves into a scat vocal segment, jazzy piano leads into a dreamlike jam and climaxes with the band going full tilt as Akiko hits long, siren-like notes on the synthesizer.  You’re immediately aware this record isn’t going down any expected path…”

At the time, Yano didn’t speak English (and Little Feat didn’t speak Japanese), but they clearly had no problem communicating musically.

If you’re a Little Feat fan (and who isn’t!) you will love this hidden gem that has been recently released outside of Japan for the first time.

Enjoy… until next week.

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