Song of the Day: Osamu Kitajima “Share My Love”
As much a showcase for singer Rena Scott as it is a Osamu Kitajima track, “Share My Love” is a deeply funky ballad that rounds out the first side of Kitajima‘s 1981 LP, Dragon King. Kitajima was always an interesting figure in the popular music cannon. He began his career as folk and psych artist in his native Japan, but eventually shifted over to an almost proto-disco and eventually became an easy-listening artist. He is an adept string player, playing both traditional Japanese string instruments such as the koto as well as the guitar.
Kitajima‘s records are often multi-tracked, highly-polished kaleidoscopes that manage to tunefully highlight his virtuosity. He also always tended towards jazz, a tendency that become more pronounced after his relocation to California in the 1970’s, which saw his records filled with work from prominent West Coast jazz session cats.
Dragon King was an interesting transitional record for Kitajima in that it saw him push more strongly in a pop/ R&B direction than he previously had. Kitajima was rewarded for this stylistic stretch with the two singles from the record with “Share My Love” and “Say You Will” (both of which prominently featured established soul singer, Rena Scott) both managing to chart. The Detroit-born Scott herself enjoyed a modest (and still ongoing) recording career, recording a handful of albums and working predominantly as a warm-up act for many of her better-known Motown peers.
“Share My Love” also notably makes a lot of space for a stellar electric piano solo by the great jazzer/ session ace/ Steely Dan regular, Victor Feldman. Feldman seizes his moment, cutting loose up and down the keyboard. The way Feldman‘s keys mesh with Kitajima‘s precise virtuoso string runs really helps elevate the track into something special. The musicianship of all-involved is spellbinding, and to their credit, they all make it seem totally effortless.