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Jazz meets literature in concert

by Tai Kawabata

Three Japanese artists living in Berlin, together with a French musician, will stage two performances in Yokohama featuring music, dance and readings to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the city’s port.

The three Japanese expats — leading jazz pianist Aki Takase, Yoko Tawada, an author who writes in German and Japanese, and up-and-coming dancer Yui Kawaguchi — together with clarinet, bass clarinet and soprano sax player Louis Sclavis will perform at Akarenga Ichigo-kan Soko (No. 1 Red Brick Warehosue) near Minato Mirai on July 11 and 12.

Prior to these performances, Takase and Sclavis will perform music in Fukuya, Shizuoka, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Kobe.

Takase, who made her first appearance at JazzFest Berlin in 1981, has been living in the German capital since 1987.

There, she is known for her work with Alex von Schlippenbach at the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, and was awarded the German Record Critics Award for works including “Something Sweet, Something Tender” (2008).

Sclavis, who hails from Lyon, a sister city of Yokohama, was awarded the 1988 Prix Django Reinhardt, which is given to the best jazz musician in France, and received the British Jazz Award 1990/91 as International Artist of the Year. He also works on projects that combine traditional music with jazz improvisation.

Tawada, who studied Russian literature at Waseda University in Tokyo, moved to Germany in 1982 and spent more than 20 years in Hamburg before going to Berlin. In 1988, she wrote a novel in German titled “Wo Europa Anfangt” (“Where Europe Begins”), which was translated into English, French and Czech. In Japan, her novel “Inu Muko Iri” (“The Bridegroom Was a Dog”) was awarded 1993′s Akutagawa Prize, while in 1996 she received the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, awarded by the Bavarian Art Academy to foreign writers who have contributed to German culture.

For the Yokohama performances, Tawada has written Japanese text that she will read. Takase will direct the performances as well as play music, joined by Sclavis and Kawaguchi.

In her text for the four-act performance, titled “Yokohama Hatsu — Kyozo,” (“Mirror Image — From Yokohama”), Tawada intersperses her various themes and images with somewhat scathing and sarcastic comments on contemporary Japan. The performance coincides with the release of Takase’s and Sclavis’ joint album, “Yokohama.”

The Yokohama performances on July 11 and 12 start at 3 p.m. in the 3F hall of Akarenga Ichigo-kan Soko (No. 1 Red Brick Warehosue). Reserve tickets are ¥3,000, ¥5,000 (pair) and ¥2,000 (students aged under 25). Call (045) 662-8866. kazuey1113.web.officelive.com/ atls09.aspx