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 Sean Smith

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Sean Smith
Sean Smith writes the Tokyo Jazz Notes blog, covering new releases and gigs from the jazz, funk and crossover scene. He has lived in Japan since 1997.
For Sean Smith's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Sep 9, 2014
Tokyo Jazz Festival impresses again
Sitting in a muddy field is taken as par for the course, and possibly even part of the attraction, at major summer festivals like Fuji Rock. But rain would certainly have put a damper on any jazz festival set in the heart of the capital. Luckily, although the clouds threatened to burst on both Saturday...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Sep 4, 2014
Jaga Jazzist brings the sound of Oslo to Tokyo Jazz Festival
Trying to slot artists into specific trends, genres and an ever-expanding number of subgenres is a constant obsession for meticulous music fans looking to define what they're listening to. Journalists categorize, sometimes to the dismay of the bands they're covering, to make things simpler for their...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Sep 4, 2014
Tokyo Jazz Festival shows off its global reach with a diverse roster
Since launching in 2002, the Tokyo Jazz Festival has undergone a number of changes in terms of format and venues, and is now firmly established as one of the most important annual events on Japan's jazz calendar.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Jul 1, 2014
Leftfield J-pop, '70s influenced rock and shadowy R&B: Our favorite albums of 2014 (so far)
In his Strange Boutique column last week, Ian Martin wrote about the need for a canon in Japanese music in order for newcomers to the scene — especially those writing about it — to gain some context into what is being released.
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Apr 8, 2014
Osaka's giant jazz festival could be great for local acts ... if the youngsters get involved
When Osaka was chosen as the Global Host City for the third annual International Jazz Day earlier this year, jazz fans across the country were elated.
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Mar 11, 2014
New acts see good results off the beaten path
Jazz is a form of music that was born out of live performance, and fans in Japan are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to places to see jazz gigs.
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Feb 11, 2014
If it ain't got that swing, it's still jazz
Looking back on 2013, I think some of the strongest jazz releases I heard were from young people in the industry. I know, it's a bit too far into the new year to be retrospective, but it has led me to consider the possibility for a jazz renaissance of sorts in Japan.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Dec 10, 2013
Ai Kuwabara tops favorites list for year in jazz
For the final Jazz Notes column of the year I met up with writer, blogger and presenter of InterFM's "OK Jazz" show James Catchpole to talk about the year in jazz at Eddie's Lounge in Tokyo's Arakawa Ward. It's run by our mutual friend, groove organist Eddie Landsberg.
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Oct 9, 2013
Hakuei Kim heads to the border for Yokohama Jazz Promenade
When you think about a so-called jazz capital of Japan, there are a couple of contenders. Kobe makes a claim to history, the first Japanese jazz band Laughing Stars started up there around 90 years ago. Tokyo has the overseas stars, being the actual capital gets you that kind of clout. Yokohama also...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Sep 11, 2013
Tony Bennett, New Cool Collective, Ai Kuwabara Trio Project impress crowds at Tokyo Jazz Festival
On seeing the lineup ahead of this year's Tokyo Jazz Festival, my initial feeling was the organizers had maybe cast their net a bit too wide with the acts booked, but those fears were completely unfounded.
CULTURE / Music / TOKYO JAZZ FESTIVAL
Sep 11, 2013
Elephant9
So is this your first trip to Japan?
CULTURE / Music / TOKYO JAZZ FESTIVAL
Sep 11, 2013
Eric Vloeimans
This is your first time at Tokyo Jazz Festival, but not your first visit to Japan. What's your overall impression?
CULTURE / Music / TOKYO JAZZ FESTIVAL
Sep 11, 2013
Tres-men
Tres-men are made up of percussionist Takahiro "Matzz" Matsuoka, DJ Yoshijiro Sakurai and keyboardist Yusuke Nakamura.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Sep 4, 2013
Pianist Ai Kuwabara to live out her dream on stage at Tokyo Jazz Festival
Pianist Ai Kuwabara is waxing nostalgic at the offices of her record label, East Works Entertainment, in Tokyo's Minato Ward.
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Aug 7, 2013
Sumida Fest offers newcomers a dip into the jazz scene
Jazz accounts for around 5 percent of total recorded music sales in Japan, but despite that the genre is ubiquitous in cities nationwide.
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Jul 10, 2013
Nothing beats a Hammond B3
This month started with a trip to Cotton Club in Tokyo's Marunouchi district to see the trio Aquapit play a gig to promote their new album "Orange."
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Jun 13, 2013
No confusion over the way jazz fusion is heading
Jazz fusion? That's big hair and flares, right? The genre in which jazz acts go electric and incorporate elements of funk and rock with jazz improvisation, all rolled up into lengthy jams? Well, yes, but only if you're stuck in the late 1960s or early '70s.
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
May 9, 2013
Female jazz acts are the real Cool Japan
One of the highlights of my Golden Week this year was a concert by the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Jazz Orchestra at Blue Note in Tokyo. Reuniting her big band for the first time in a decade, Akiyoshi rolled back the clock with a superb set and some witty banter. The high point of the Sunday night...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
May 2, 2013
Pianist provides a tribute to Canadian jazz legend for his debut
One decision that faces jazz musicians toward the start of their careers is whether to continue the traditions of what's gone before them or to try and strike out in a new direction.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Apr 25, 2013
The first lady of Japanese jazz comes home
For Japanese jazz musicians these days, going to the United States to further mastery of the genre is a much-pursued rite of passage. This route has enabled a number of acts to gain international recognition and success.

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