Jazz may have had its start in the west, but Japan may well lead the charge for innovative pursuits in the genre in our modern-day. Tokyo’s jazz scene, in particular, thrives more by the day, with traditional and fusion-style jazz techniques seeing a resurgence amongst younger generations throughout the city. This is where we currently find our hero, Milwaukee’s own Arthur Fowler, residing. He’s once again bringing the goods on his second studio output, Here I Am Again.
Like Fowler’s roots as they’ve spread, Here I Am Again is a multinational affair. Featuring Chicago musicians and the record’s two opening tracks and Tokyo musicians on the three remaining, Fowler calls it “an electric international fusion of all that I’ve lived and loved.” No matter who’s teaming up alongside Fowler (who himself contributes his slick work behind the guitar and as a vocalist to proceedings), one thing that can be said is that the sheer musicality brought on display shows that, regardless of lineage, these guys know jazz.
Better yet, however, is that this isn’t jazz sold to you straight. The genre itself is well-known for stretching its confines, and Fowler and his collaborators kick that up another notch by introducing elements of several other genres and movements to the table. Elements of Latin fusion, funk, blues, rock and, yes, folk are all present and ready to play on the record, impressively fusing into amalgamations that frankly wouldn’t have been possible without truly consummate musicians performing these compositions.
Production is crisp, clear, and full-bodied, offering a crystalline window into Fowler and the band’s world as they turn in each delectable performance. It’s something of a marvel to observe this collective at work, which altogether might feel something like if Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and James Taylor sat down for a fireside chat over the holidays to collaborate on a new album together. When all is said and done, the full LP is worth a look, which you can give it by following this link.