When I visited Japan a few years back, I was struck by the deep reverence for jazz music and culture across the country. In Tokyo, it seemed as though a jazz bar or "kissaten" could be found in every neighborhood - safe havens for the avid listener seeking to escape from the bustle of the city.
One such figure who exemplifies this adoration of jazz is Seiichi Sugita. Primarily known for his long-standing career in the jazz world as a photojournalist and critic, he is also the proprietor of a cafe and bar in Yokohama (aptly named “Bitches Brew”). Sugita’s first photo book “The Jazz Mirage” serves as a window into his time as editor-in-chief at “Jazz” magazine, featuring his photographs of iconic jazz artists. Published in 1976, the book presents a broad scope of jazz music at the time, taking the reader to scenes in New Orleans, New York, Chicago, as well as some of the renowned jazz festivals across Europe and the United States. Sugita's portraits offer a rare sense of intimacy with his iconic subjects, capturing the goings-on surrounding the artists' performances. Some notable highlights are to be found in the New York section of the book, featuring documentation of the 1970's loft jazz scene, as well as an outdoor performance from the great Pharoah Sanders at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, then known as Mount Morris Park. If you can get your hands on a copy, "The Jazz Mirage" is a must-have for jazz fans new and old.