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Yokohama gets jazzed up with Harlem Nights

by Naoko Kuramochi

Feel like getting in a New York state of mind? You might not have to travel too far because next week Yokohama will add a little slice of the Big Apple to its environs.

The ninth installment of Harlem Nights aims to re-create the atmosphere of the famous Manhattan neighborhood for five days from July 28 in Yokohama, where the Japanese blues is said to have its origins.

Elements of jazz, R&B, blues, soul, gospel and hip-hop music will be performed by a group of eight visiting American musicians at Landmark Tower’s Landmark Hall, which will serve popular soul food to further enhance the vibe.

Situated in the north of Manhattan, Harlem became very influential in driving American black culture during the first half of the 20th century. The area took a turn for the worse after the 1940s, but it is once again managing to capture the hearts of Americans after a period of redevelopment in the late 1990s. Nowadays, a multitude of cultures have flooded the area, mixing with the traditional black culture that defined the area to create something new.

Vocalist Mike Davis, from the New York borough of Brooklyn, has run an R&B show at New York nightspot Cafe Wha? for 25 years, and has performed with artists such as Stevie Wonder and Erykah Badu.

Another entertainer coming to Japan for Harlem Nights is world-renowned human beatbox Kenny Muhammad, whose last visit to Japan was 18 years ago.

Vocalist and dancer C.P. Lacey, who has performed the role of “The Executioner” for more than 13 years at the amateur night hosted by the legendary Apollo Theater (he uses a broom to sweep performers off the stage if the crowd disagrees with them), will also perform at Harlem Nights. Fans might also recognize Lacey as an actor who starred in the films “A Christmas Carol” and “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

While audiences will be able to delight their sense of sound and taste during performances, Japanese artist Yasuhide Kagii will arouse their sense of sight in the Landmark Hall Lobby. The artist will exhibit his pieces, which incorporate traditional oil paintings with light and colored transparent sheets.

“Harlem Nights 9″ takes place at Yokohama’s Landmark Hall from July 28 to Aug. 1. Tickets cost ¥6,500 (excluding food). For further information, visit harlemnights.jp/