Jazz Journeys to Japan

The Heart Within
William Minor
One author's personal odyssey through the jazz scene in Japan


Part music history, part cultural meditation, part travel narrative, Jazz Journeys to Japan is the first book to address the experiences of individual Japanese jazz musicians—greats such as Toshiko Akiyoshi, Masahiko Satoh, Makoto Ozone, and Yosuke Yamashita.

Author William Minor navigates the converging streams of Western music and Eastern tradition, revealing through interviews with musicians, critics, and producers the unique synthesis that results from this union. And, turning conventional wisdom on its ear, he disproves the widely held notion that Japanese jazz artists don't "swing." Along the way, we experience Minor's growing appreciation of Japanese culture, which mirrors his subjects' discovery of American jazz.

William Minor's previous books include Unzipped Souls: A Jazz Journey through the Soviet Union and Monterey Jazz Festival: Forty Legendary Years. He has written for Downbeat, Jazz Times, Jazz Notes, Coda, and Swing Journal.

Praise / Awards

  • "With an eye and an ear for detail and a poet's passion, William Minor commits himself to meticulously leaving no stone unturned in his journey to understand the jazz heart within Japan. In his first-person exploration teeming with personal anecdotes and enlightening interviews, Bill engages the reader immediately with 'scherzando' (playful) reverence."
    —Dan Ouellette, music critic, Billboard and DownBeat
  • "Jazz has been deeply rooted in the soil of the mysterious country of Zen, haiku, and Bushido for three quarters of a century, but not until Jazz Journeys to Japan has a book shed light on the Japanese jazz scene of today."
    —Masahiko Satoh, pianist, composer, arranger
  • "Bill Minor has long been a highly respected observer of the jazz scene and one of its most literate journalists. In Jazz Journeys to Japan, he casts light on the much-neglected Japanese jazz scene and is not only quite informative, but very witty."
    —Scott Yanow, author of Trumpet Kings and Jazz On Record
  • "Minor has done a very good, and long-overdue, job of putting to rest the mythology of the 'vapid' and unswinging Japanese jazz artist. Reading his description of these musicians in action, I kept hearing the music jump off the page. He confirmed that these cats can swing!"
    —W. Royal Stokes, author of Living the Jazz Life and Swing Era New York
  • " . . . a historical reference guide to Japanese jazz for the uninitiated. . . . not the typical linear approach to writing about jazz."
    All About Jazz: New York
  • "Written as much for musicians as laymen, Jazz Journeys is a very satisfying read because it describes the various clubs in Japan, the artist, decor, even their style of dress—and most important, the style of jazz played there. . . . Minor's interviews are well done, bringing out musicians' personalities and response to jazz as their personal means of expression."
    —Margot Petit Nichols, Carmel Pine Cone
  • "If you never miss the Montery Jazz Festival and/or are interested in all aspects of Japanese culture, this is a must-read."
    —Silas Spaeth, Salinas Californian
  • "Minor starts off by asking some very basic questions—Is Japanese jazz original? Is there good Japanese jazz?--then sets out to answer them, describing social scenes as well as musical ones, including himself and his wife as characters in an almost novelistic scenario. It's a lovely, worthwhile journey, after which names like Tiger Okoshi, Sleepy Matsumoto, Junko Onishi and Yosuke Yamashita will become old friends, rather than mysteries."
    —Paul de Barros, Sunday Seattle Times & Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Look Inside

Copyright © 2004, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 386pp.
  • 29 B&W photograph section.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2004
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11345-3

Add to Cart
  • $40.00 U.S.