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    The Computer Audiophile

    Three Blind Mice Supreme Collection 1500 | A Treasure Trove Of Music

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    Several years ago I purchased an album on a whim. It was by an artist named Yoshio Otomo on the Three Blind Mice record label. Nobody suggested I purchase this album. I still don't know why I took a chance on it, other than I absolutely love music. It was the best $25 I've ever spent on music. This album turned me on to a whole new world of Japanese jazz and the Three Blind Mice label. I've since been on a few obsessive missions over the years to find more TBM albums. 

     

    Three Blind Mice is a Japanese jazz label founded in 1970, and it's often called the Japanese Blue Note. The albums released on this label are nothing short of amazing. The music is great, the musicians are great, and the sound quality is great. What more can a music loving audiophile ask for? Of course, more music!

     

    Early in January 2020, I stumbled upon the Three Blind Mice Supreme Collection 1500. This is a collection of the "best" 40 albums ever released by TBM. The albums were reissued in 10 album batches late in 2019 by Craftman records and distributed through Japan's Disk Union. I immediately searched the internet and contacted everyone I know to figure out how to get these 40 albums. 

     

    I found a few of the albums available from a couple US outlets, but nothing close to the entire collection. I contacted Disk Union about shipping to the US. That was a no-go. CD Japan said it would ship to the US, but also lacked the entire collection. Then, I heard back from a representative of Craftsman Records. He connected me with a gentleman at Disk Union and arranged my purchase and shipment of the entire 40 CD collection! Last week the collection finally arrived. Wow, what a treat. 

     

    I've been listening to these albums nearly nonstop since their arrival. I have copies on my iPhone, in my Roon library, Aurender library, and a few others. Here's how I described my situation to a good friend via email, "This is like having a world class chef hand me dessert after dessert. Each album is fantastic in its own way."

     

    While I can't give a complete assessment of the 40 albums yet, I will list my current favorites and wish everyone the best of luck obtaining these amazing works of art. 

     

     


    Moon Ray.jpgYoshio Otomo Quartet with Tsuyoshi Yamamoto, Moon Ray (TBM-3007)

     

    This is the album that kicked it all off for me and it's still my favorite TBM release. One listen to the first track and I was hooked. Tamiko Kawabata's double bass opens the track, with Otomo's alto saxophone coming in shortly thereafter. Once Yamamoto joins in around the one minute mark, the track is off and running and the listen is past the point go no return. Once you've heard it, you'll want more.  

     

     

    Midnight Sugar.jpgTsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio, Midnight Sugar (TBM-23)

     

    Similar to how Moon Ray opens, Isoo Fukui starts it off with a deep double bass line, but this time Yamamoto enters this title track right away with some magical piano work. It's every so soft, but also features great transients and provides a very real sense of being in a jazz club. The entire album is pure magic.

     

     


    Misty.jpgTsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio, Misty (TBM-30)

     

    Tsuyoshi Yamamoto is the star of this show. And to think he was a self-taught pianist! There isn't a track on the album that I skip over. The sound quality is also fantastic, with a dynamic range score of DR 12. 

     

     

     

     

    Toki.jpgHidefumi Toki Quartet, Toki (TBM-46)

     

    This album features Hidefumi Toki on soprano saxophone with a band including a guitarist and at times an organist. It has a much different feel from the previous TBM albums on my list. A couple of the tracks have quite a bit going on, with the entire band hitting on all cylinders. Three of the five tracks are more about finesse and enabling a couple instruments such as Toki's sax and the bass to really shine. 

     

     


    Blow Up.jpgIsao Suzuki Trio, Blow Up (TBM-15)

     

    This album starts with an eerie feel on the track Aqua Marine, but it's terrifically eerie. Suzuki's cello, Sugano's electric piano, and Otsuka on percussion, weave a web of somewhat strange sounds that come together and sound wonderful on a HiFi system. The middle three tracks on the album are much more like traditional jazz, with a Japanese style. The last two go off in a different direction from anything previous on the album. It's all terrific stuff though. 

     

     


    Blues for Tee.jpgTsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio, Blues For Tee (TBM-41)

     

    I have to include this one because it would be a shame not to. It's the Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio again and it's much more typical music from this too than the Isao Suzuki Trio mentioned above. This is just another very solid jazz record that sounds great. 

     

     

     

     

    Green Caterpillar.jpgMasaru Imada Trio +2, Green Caterpillar (TBM-39)

     

    The first two tracks on this album are a bit off the wall, but in a really cool way. The opening track has an unmistakable psychedelic electric piano opening that may turn some traditionalist listeners off, but it's right up my alley. The rest of the band Kazumi Watanabe (guitar), Isao Fukui (bass), Tetsujiro Obara (drums), Yuji Imamura (percussion) are all as tight as can be. The entire album is great, with my favorite track, number three, Blue Impulse. This track starts like a more traditional jazz effort. Imada's beautifully soft piano solo for the first two minutes, followed by Fukui taking control on his bass. They all get together toward the middle of the track, then about 8:40 into the track Imamura lets lose on the drums for a wonderful, pounding, but brief solo. What a great album.

     

     

     

    Hino.jpgTerumasa Hino Quintet, Live! (TBM-17)

     

    One last album for the list. I was just in my car playing the entire 40 CD collection on shuffle, and I heard the Terumasa Hino Quintet album Live! (TBM-17) track titled Be and Now. What an amazing and eclectic piece of music. The album was recorded live at Yubin-Chokin Hall in Tokyo on June 2, 1973. This specific track is a "slow burn" but those with patience will be rewarded with some fabulous music, fabulous musicians, and fabulous sound quality. 

     

     

     

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    1 minute ago, bobflood said:

    Thanks Chris, this brings back memories from the past. I owned a number of these over the years (and probably sold them for way too little). High-end shops used them as demo material in the 1980 -1990 era and that is how I got mine. I only sold them because I had played them to death. As you said, they are some of the best recorded, best mastered genius performances every made. Most were recorded to tape and mastered to vinyl and CD. They are not hi-res yet they sound every bit as good as any hi-res that I have heard and the CD and Vinyl mastering were impeccable. It was hard to tell the difference on high-end equipment. Just goes to show that the so called problems with digital could be overcome with some effort. They should be required listening for anyone who aspires to be a recording or mastering engineer.

     

    ENJOY!!!

    Well said Bob. 

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    7 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Wish I could read Japanese. This looks neat. 

     

    https://diskunion.net/portal/ct/detail/1007346422

     

    71QBv9bPi7L.jpg 711YJP6BUhL.jpg

     

     

     

     

    BTW,

     

    You can peek inside here:

     

    https://www.amazon.co.jp/スリー・ブラインド・マイス-コンプリート・ディスクガイド-伝説のジャズ・レーベル-小川隆夫/dp/4905447798

     

     

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    @The Computer Audiophile Chris how did you get that collection on ROON did you add it yourself (by buying it) or is there a place to get it and download it I couldn't find it on ROON A+ TIDAL or Qobuz?

    Edited by bobbmd
    additions etc

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    11 minutes ago, bobbmd said:

    @The Computer Audiophile Chris how did you get that collection on ROON did you add it yourself (by buying it) or is there a place to get it and download it I couldn't find it on ROON A+ TIDAL or Qobuz?

    Perhaps you missed the article?

     

    I had to purchase all the discs from Tokyo :~)

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    14 minutes ago, Mike Rubin said:

    TBM isn’t the only Japanese label with great content and sonics.  Not to get this thread too far off track, I commend the East Wind label to those interested in J-Jazz.  
     

    https://jazzmf.com/east-wind-records-list/

     

    That’s just a listing of the catalogue, not a sales site.  I have no idea how to score these records, most if not all of which were reissued on CD, other than the occasional offer of used versions on eBay.  The sound is pristine, if not a bit dry in some cases.  

     

    For the most part, the issues by Japanese artists are more creative and less tradition-bound than the TBM stuff.  (Ironically, some of the stuff from American artists on the label couldn’t be more hidebound and predictable. Yes, Great Jazz Trio and LA4, I am talking about you.)

     

    Almost any of the Hino’s are superb, with “Hogiuta” being unlike anything I ever have heard, very Japanese-specific, verging on avant-garde yet highly rhythmic.  It also is crazy dynamic, making it a fabulous system demo piece.  It’s one of the best things from both content and sonic viewpoints in this music hoarder’s pointlessly-large collection.


    Alto saxophonist Sadao Watanabe is one of the J-Jazz musicians best known outside of Japan, with maybe 75 albums to his credit, including one (“Round Trip”) with Chick Corea, Miroslav Vitous, and Jack DeJohnette.  Much of Watanabe’s work has been either derivative or commercial schlock, but there are some serious, creative works in his discography.  “Recital” is my preferred album on the East Wind label.  It’s a live performance featuring a J-Jazz all-star lineup that includes reed player Kohsuke Mine, trombonist Hiroshi Fukumura, pianist Takehiro Honda, guitarist Kazumi Watanabe, and world-class percussionist Masahiko Togashi.

     

    Yoshiaki Masuo is a guitarist best known for his work with Sadao Watanabe, but he spent some time in NYC.  “111 Sullivan Street” is a surprisingly conservative and “straight” album of ballads and standards, some solo, a couple in a trio with Bob Cranshaw and David Lee, and a couple with altoist Bob Mover.

     

    Also worthy of your time are the Kikuchi, Mine, Imada, Masuda and Togashi albums.  The stuff by American artists Andrew Hill, David Friedman, Don Friedman, and Walter Bishop, Jr. is highly listenable, if not essential.  Two albums by Miles Davis sidemen Sam Morrison and Reggie Lucas are considered essentials of the electric jazz fusion genre.

     

    You can sample some of this music on YouTube.

     

    Why did you do this to me. Now I'm on a mission to find the unfindable :~(

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    24 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Why did you do this to me. Now I'm on a mission to find the unfindable :~(

    EBay is a decent start.  

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    15 minutes ago, ronfint said:

    To add to the confusion, I’d like to recommend these two terrific compilation albums:

     

    J-Jazz - Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1984

    https://bbemusic.bandcamp.com/album/j-jazz-deep-modern-jazz-from-japan-1969-1984

     

    and Volume 2:

    https://bbemusic.bandcamp.com/album/j-jazz-volume-2-deep-modern-jazz-from-japan-1969-1983

     

     

     

    NICE!

     

    Thanks so much!!!

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    Hello,

     

    How could I purchase the collection? I need a contact person since I’m not able to translate well enough the japanese sites 🙂

     

    Cristian

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