If you’ve been near Shibuya Station in Tokyo at night in the past 12 months, you may well have encountered three young guys playing up a storm to passers-by, many of whom have stopped to listen, cheer and/or dance. This trio goes by the name of Ethnic Minority, and is led by saxophonist Hiroyuki Yokota. Backed by some funky amplified upright bass and a unique drum setup of snare, customized cajon and cymbals, the group has an aggressive, rough-and-ready sound that it has labeled “grunge jazz.” In addition to original compositions, Ethnic Minority have even added a distortion-heavy version of the Nirvana anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to their repertoire.

After signing with East Works Entertainment, Ethnic Minority is now ready to take its music to a wider audience with debut album, “Startin,’ ” which comprises eight tracks — five of them originals and three covers. The album bursts to life with the powerful “Minority D-,” its unrelenting heavy-rock drums and funky bassline provide the backing for an awesome sax riff. Things then get funky and free with the Ornette Coleman composition “Times Square,” featuring a couple of sax loops over which Yokota is free to improvise, recalling the new-wave funk sound of the early 1980s.

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