/

LIVE

Pia-no-jaC

by Shawn Despres

Combining letters from the names of the instruments they play — piano and cajon (a South American box drum) — to create their handle, Pia-no-jaC’s stripped-down keys and percussion setup has netted the Tokyo duo a fair amount of attention.

Debuting in the fall of 2008 with “First Contact,” the act instantly found a fan base for their unique art-jazz blend. With praise and sales figures increasing, they aimed to make a bigger splash in Japan’s jazz and alternative- music scenes in 2009, issuing another album of originals and two very fun “Eat a Classic” records featuring reinterpretations of famed classical pieces by the likes of Ludwig van Beethoven and Frederic Chopin. They also managed to squeeze out a DVD, “First Movies,” before the end of the year.

Having already sold more than 350,000 copies of Pia-no-jaC product, the prolific pair show no signs of letting up. They put out a collaboration with Hokkaido house DJ Daishi Dance, “Piano Project,” this summer; this was quickly followed by the band’s fifth studio effort, “This Way Up,” on Sept. 1. Expect “Eat a Classic 3″ to surface in late autumn as well.

Dressed in matching work coveralls onstage, members Hayato and Hiro inject their jazzy instrumentals with a highly entertaining dose of rock ‘n’ roll gusto, yelping and grunting while excitedly banging away on keyboards, the aforementioned cajon and cymbals. Set lists include their own material, “Eat a Classic” covers and spins on Disney tunes such as “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

They have previously gigged in France, Taiwan and Thailand, and will tour South Korea after finishing their “This Way Up” Japanese jaunt. Playfully titled the “Jumpin’ JAC Flash Tour,” several domestic dates are already sold out and tickets remaining for other shows likely won’t last long.

Pia-no-jaC play IMS Hall in Fukuoka on Sept. 4; Peiano Plus’ in Kumamoto on Sept. 5; MO:GLA in Okayama on Sept. 11; Club Quattro in Hiroshima on Sept. 12; Zepp Nagoya on Sept. 19; Zepp Sendai on Sept. 23 and Sakurazaka Central in Naha, Okinawa, on Oct. 16. Shows start at 5 p.m. and advance tickets cost ¥3,500. For more information, visit pia-no-jac.net