“雑食familia” (zasshoku, or “ominivorus” familia) by young Japanese artist Naoito is one of the more promising, pleasing and ambitious debut albums we’ve heard in quite a while. Naoito combines jazz, Latin rhythms, African beats, club, reggae, and even lounge-style crooning in some rather complex compositions, the shortest of which (besides the intro) clocks in at 5:17. While 3-minute singles continue to be the mainstream standard, “Mikorason,” at 9:14, is quite an impressive and coherent marathon effort. Kudos to his band, too, for some fine back-up to his acoustic guitar—the horn melodies give great flavor to the album. The variety of musical styles on this CD is not surprising when considering Naoito’s travels to Jamaica, Brazil, Cuba and Africa. He’s definitely worth catching live, especially at small venues where he seems to thrive on the closeness of the crowd, dancing around him euphorically. Additionally, Naoito tours with reggae artist Rickie-G as a percussionist.


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