Everyone loves a good origin story. No matter the creative discipline such tales make even the most potent work seem more revelatory. Enter the late Japanese jazz pianist Ryo Fukui. An autodidact, Fukui taught himself piano at age 22 – just four years prior to the release of his exceptional 1976 debut lp, Scenery. Far from prolific, Fukui released just four more albums over the course of the next four decades…which brings us to A Letter from Slowboat.
Released a year prior to his death in 2016, Letter is a live album taking its name from the Slowboat jazz club in Sapporo, Japan. Comprised of recordings culled from performances in the room, the collection is as satisfying as it is hard to find outside of Japan. Thankfully there is YouTube where the record is streaming in full. Press play and let it wash you clean.