You don’t have to be an aficionado to enjoy Tokyo Jazz Festival

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

Being unfamiliar with jazz, isn’t an excuse to stay home during the Tokyo Jazz Festival. The event features artists from outside the genre, and organizers have set up the Tokyo Jazz Labo, a workshop for newcomers.

The Saturday stage at Tokyo International Forum Hall A will host a notable nonjazz performer: rock and fusion guitarist Masayoshi Takanaka, better known as lead guitarist in the influential Sadistic Mika Band. His touring band includes percussionist Nobu Saito, drummer Masahiro Miyazaki, keyboardist Yoshinobu Kojima, keyboardist and saxophone player Makoto Aoyagi, bassist Hideki Matsubara and guitarist Naruhi Inaba.

Takanaka and his band took to the stage at Sapporo City Jazz last week to perform tracks from the artist’s solo releases, including the songs “Blue Lagoon” and “Ready to Fly,” before closing the gig with one of Sadistic Mika Band’s more popular hits, “Kurofune.”

Tokyo Jazz Labo will be held on Sept. 6 and 7 at the Plaza stage at the Tokyo International Forum. The highlight at this event is likely to be the Morning Jazz Workshop, which offers a chance to perform with professional jazz musicians. Saxophone player Seiji Tada will lead the jam sessions on both days, but the second day will also feature trumpeter and flugelhornist Randy Brecker, and guitarist Mike Stern.

Unfortunately, the reservations for these sessions closed earlier in the week, but the activities will take place at the outdoor Plaza stage allowing passersby the opportunity to catch a free show.

Musical instrument company Yamaha will host lessons for a selection of brass, woodwinds and guitars, and mini-concerts from 1:45 p.m. on both days. There will be a smattering of performances by university students on the first date of the event, while on the second day the ICP Orchestra will hold an improvised session before a small gig by Australian organ-funk trio Cookin’ on 3 Burners.

Masayoshi Takanaka plays Tokyo International Forum Hall A at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 6 as part of the 13th Tokyo Jazz Festival. For more information, visit www.tokyo-jazz.com.