• Denholm Hewlett

[Music] Casiopea (1976-1988)

Casiopea, (derived from the constellation Cassiopeia), is Japan's most legendary and beloved interplanetary jazz-funk fusion supergroup.

From Left to Right - Tetsuo, Akira, Issei, Minoru

Casiopea is an widely respected Japanese fusion band founded in 1976 by a gang of exceptional teenage musicians; lead by frontman Guitarist and head composer Issei Noro, Electric Bassist Tetsuo Sakurai, drummer Takashi Sasaki and keyboard wizard Minoru Mukaiya. The band's debut self-titled album dropped in 1979, before the group's best known drummer Akira Jimbo joined the band after the release of their 2nd album. Casiopea's musical orbit, technical skill and passionate endurance led them to release dozens of infectious instrumental fusion records. The band recorded and played music together for decades and toured all over the world, but never found any mainstream success in the West, and never broke America.

Casiopea's smooth yet highly technical intergalactic aesthetic is a unique sound which is instantly reminiscent of retro video game scores, the band's sound effortlessly blends the funky and complex instrumentation of contemporary jazz with the romanticism of high budget elevator lounge music, resulting in aerodynamic cosmic jazz-fusion from beyond the stars. Start off with Midnight Rendezvous - One of the quintessential debut tracks from Casiopea, written by Guitarist Issei Noro when he was 18 years old.

Casiopea, led by guitarist and head composer Issei Noro, have released over thirty albums since the band's inception and are still active today. Although the band members have changed over the years, the group have maintained an exceptionally high standard with their musicality and showmanship that very few bands can match. These players are among some of the most talented and respected virtuoso musicians in the business. The golden era of Casiopea, the early Alfa years, was between 1976 to 1988, until Tetsuo and Akira left to form their own bass and drum duo "Jimsaku".

The most beloved compositions from Casiopea's extensive back catalog include tracks like Asayake, Black Joke, Domino Line, Galactic Funk, Midnight Rendezvous, Eyes of The Mind, Space Road, Dazzling, Looking Up, Take Me, Mid-Manhatten, Night Storm, Zoom & Time Limit.

This live recording of DOMINO LINE is the best rendition of the song with the original band, each member performs their own instrumental solo section before the main guitar riff returns with a serious vengeance. This version was part of the MINT JAMS album. Click to 2:30 for Sakurai's insane bass solo.

My introduction to Casiopea was through watching their live performances from the 1980's. As if the group's musical virtuosity wasn't clear enough, I could tell they were all really enjoying themselves during their concerts. Casiopea is a group that sound the same on record as they do performing live, experiencing their sound live is best. Their on-stage chemistry and masterful musical skill was so infectious and uplifting to watch, to witness such veteran grade musicians playing together with such enthusiasm, undeniable skill and no ego, radiating pure energy for them and the audience, even sneaking in a little choreography on the sly! These guys are simply one of the greatest bands in Japanese history without any doubt.

The definitive Casiopea live experience has to be their impressive concert from 1985. Watch the full Casiopea LIVE concert below.

~ Here's a selection of Casiopea music for you to check out, we hope you enjoy their satisfying Yamaha virtuoso fusion sound! ~

~ Psychic Garden