| Aug 7, 2013

Sumida Fest offers newcomers a dip into the jazz scene

Jazz accounts for around 5 percent of total recorded music sales in Japan, but despite that the genre is ubiquitous in cities nationwide. Don’t believe me? Take a closer listen to the background music you hear while shopping at your local shōtengai (shopping arcade) ...

| Jul 10, 2013

Nothing beats a Hammond B3

This month started with a trip to Cotton Club in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district to see the trio Aquapit play a gig to promote their new album “Orange.” Before the show even started, something caught my attention: Occupying center stage was a vintage Hammond B3 ...

| Jun 13, 2013

No confusion over the way jazz fusion is heading

Jazz fusion? That’s big hair and flares, right? The genre in which jazz acts go electric and incorporate elements of funk and rock with jazz improvisation, all rolled up into lengthy jams? Well, yes, but only if you’re stuck in the late 1960s or ...

| May 9, 2013

Female jazz acts are the real Cool Japan

One of the highlights of my Golden Week this year was a concert by the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Jazz Orchestra at Blue Note in Tokyo. Reuniting her big band for the first time in a decade, Akiyoshi rolled back the clock with a superb ...

The first lady of Japanese jazz comes home

Apr 25, 2013

The first lady of Japanese jazz comes home

For Japanese jazz musicians these days, going to the United States to further mastery of the genre is a much-pursued rite of passage. This route has enabled a number of acts to gain international recognition and success.

Playwright imprint focuses on newer jazz acts

Apr 18, 2013

Playwright imprint focuses on newer jazz acts

At a time when stories about declining music sales are frequent and major labels aren’t investing in new talent, hearing about an indie label like Playwright is music to the ears. The young jazz label’s first release came out in October, and in the ...

| Apr 11, 2013

Newbies to Japanese jazz get a soundtrack to a primer

For a music fan wanting to explore jazz for the first time, an ideal starting point may be the current chart-toppers, which includes Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding and Jose James. Alternatively, he or she may choose to start with the classics, diving into the ...

| Feb 14, 2013

Jazz acts must embrace some new standards

Drop by your local jazz club and on an average night there’s a fair chance the band will at some point play a rendition of “Autumn Leaves,” “My Favorite Things” or ” ‘Round Midnight” — or maybe all three. You might hear an inspired ...

Miho Hazama starts a journey

Jan 23, 2013

Miho Hazama starts a journey

It’s believed that time spent living abroad can be a journey of self-discovery, and for Miho Hazama that has certainly been the case. Moving to New York to study for a master’s degree in jazz composition at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) was ...