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Tokyo Jazz 2007

by Yung-hsiang Kao

The Tokyo Jazz fest organized by NHK and Nikkei was a 2-day event when it started 5 years ago and, up until 2005, had Herbie Hancock as director. How things have changed.

Like 2006′s event, this year’s festival will still be at Tokyo International Forum in Marunouchi, but spread over 4 days, Sept. 20-23, including a doubleheader on Sept. 22. But whereas last year’s festival continued a run of bringing marquee artists to Tokyo, such as Chick Corea, Hiromi Uehara, Sadao Watanabe, Hank Jones and Marcus Miller, Tokyo Jazz 2007 pales in comparison.

There are some noteworthies to listen to: pianist Joe Sample plays with vocalist Randy Crawford on Sept. 21; guitarist Lee Ritenour plays with an eclectic group of musicians along with special guest Bill Evans on sax at the Sept. 22 afternoon session; and saxophonist Benny Golson brings his quartet to the Sept. 22 “Masters’ Session” in the evening. This is the one to attend — guitarist Mike Stern will play with pianist Makoto Ozone, and the evening ends with the Tokyo Jazz 2007 Special Session. Trumpeter Randy Brecker, the late saxophonist Michael Brecker’s brother, will lead the group, which includes Stern, Bob Mintzer on sax and bassist Anthony Jackson.

For those who like big bands, the Duke Ellington Orchestra kick things off on Sept. 20, and the festival ends with outdoor performances on Sept. 23.

Tokyo Jazz 2007 will be held at Tokyo International Forum from Sept. 20-23; tickets ¥8,500, ¥6,500 also available on Sept. 20-22 and ¥4,000 for outdoor standing room on Sept. 23. For more information visit www.tokyo-jazz.com