Kyoto Jazz Sextet – Mission

Kyoto Jazz Sextet

Check out the hottest Japanese jazz import coming from one-half of the nujazz/broken beat collective Kyoto Jazz Massive (KJM).  Kyoto Jazz Sextet is the lastest brainchild of Shuya Okino, who along with his brother Yoshihiro Okino formed Kyoto Jazz Massive (KJM) to become two of the most sought after DJs/producers/remixers throughout the 90s and into the 2000s.

While brother Yoshihiro Okino kept himself busy DJing and running his record label and store Especial Records, his brother Shuya Okino kept himself busy producing this fantastic Kyoto Jazz Sextet album “Mission.” Shuya pulled together several of Japan’s finest musicians to turn out this massive recording for the Blue Note Japan label.  Our North American friends may not have heard about this fine jazz release due to it being a Japanese only release (at the moment) as well as the promotional material language barrier on the Internet. But take one listen to “Mission” and the jazz will tear down any and all barriers. Since it’s a Japanese import we might have to pay a little extra for it but that’s ok too. This album is worth every extra penny spent!

Kyoto Jazz Sextet

Mission” recalls the genius of 60s Blue Note when greats like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard brought a fluid hard-bop balance to the label.  The Kyoto Jazz Sextet is not so focused on playing straight covers of the Blue Note classics they chose to record, but rather playing them in a refreshing mode that pays the utmost respect to the greats, the compositions and the Blue Note label. They handle the material exquisitely and with care.  All we can hope for now is a North American Blue Note release but preview the album below and you just might end up paying the extra import price for this fine recording. Basically it’s a cooker and it’s pretty irresistible!

The Lady Who Shot Lee Morgan by Larry Reni Thomas


Jazz trumpet legend Lee Morgan was killed on a cold February night in 1972, at Slug’s Saloon, a jazz club in New York City’s East Village where his band was performing.  Following an altercation between sets, Morgan’s 46-year-old common-law wife, Helen shot him. He was 33 years old. According to an eyewitness, Helen walked out of the club just before the last set.  She returned and the band was already on stage.  Lee was trying to get up there, but was talking with some people.  He just started to get up on stage, when she entered and called his name.  Lee turned around and she shot him.  She then turned the gun on the club’s doorman Ernie Holman, who grabbed her wrist and took the gun away from her.  She started to scream, “Baby, what have I done?” and ran to him.

At the time of Lee Morgan’s death he was experiencing a comeback of sorts.  He had been battling a serious heroin addiction for years and by most accounts, was drug free.  His gig at Slug’s was the talk of the jazz world and was a must-see for all of those in the know.  There was always a packed house during his engagements at Slug’s.  He looked good, sounded great and seemed destined for a fantastic future. Then the unthinkable happened.

How could it be?  Why would Helen Morgan, whom almost everyone figured loved Lee more than she loved herself, kill her constant companion?  What happened in their decade long relationship that would cause her to do something that devastating to Lee and herself and to Lee Morgan’s legion of fellow musicians, friends and fans who adored him?

The only person who could answer such questions is Helen Morgan.  One month before Helen Morgan died from a heart condition in Wilmington, NC in March 1996 she granted an interview to North Carolina-based writer/radio announcer, Larry Reni Thomas.  She decided to grant the interview to give her account of the sad, tragic event. Reportedly that was the first and last time Helen Morgan spoke publicly about the incident.  

Upcoming North Carolina Book Signings With Author Larry Reni Thomas:

Pomegranate Books4418 Park Avenue, Wilmington, North Carolina, February 21, 2014, at 7 pm

The Regulator Book Shop: 702 Ninth Street, Durham, North Carolina, March 7, 2014, at 7 pm

To purchase The Lady Who Shot Lee Morgan visit or send e-mail to




Blue Note – A Story Of Modern Jazz Documentary [Full Length]


Blue Note – A Story Of Modern Jazz is one of my favorite documentaries. I remember getting this documentary on VHS as part of a “free with purchase” promotion at Borders Books & Music.  It was circa 1997 and when I had purchased a Blue Note CD the VHS was a freebie. I was mainly after Horace Silver’s Song For My Father on CD. At the time of purchase I had no idea that I was taking home what turned out to be this priceless documentary about the history of one of the greatest jazz record labels in the world, Blue Note Records.


Everything about this documentary fascinated me.  I fell more and more in love with the music, the artists, the cover art and the history of the label every time I watched it. The archival footage is just amazing.  Another piece to the fascinating Blue Note story is the Blue Note cover art.  The cover art is just as famous as the music and it has it’s own history.  This wonderful documentary has since been released on DVD and I have yet to replace my trusty dusty VHS even though it’s worth every penny and should be added to any serious jazz documentary collection.  But in the meantime we can all enjoy this full length youtube stream.