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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.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Apr 18, 2013
Playwright imprint focuses on newer jazz acts
At a time when stories about declining music sales are frequent and major labels aren't investing in new talent, hearing about an indie label like Playwright is music to the ears.
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Apr 11, 2013
Newbies to Japanese jazz get a soundtrack to a primer
For a music fan wanting to explore jazz for the first time, an ideal starting point may be the current chart-toppers, which includes Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding and Jose James. Alternatively, he or she may choose to start with the classics, diving into the extensive back catalogs of the Blue Note...
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Feb 14, 2013
Jazz acts must embrace some new standards
Drop by your local jazz club and on an average night there's a fair chance the band will at some point play a rendition of "Autumn Leaves," "My Favorite Things" or " 'Round Midnight" — or maybe all three. You might hear an inspired rendition of a time-honored classic, but more likely you'll have...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Jan 23, 2013
Miho Hazama starts a journey
It's believed that time spent living abroad can be a journey of self-discovery, and for Miho Hazama that has certainly been the case. Moving to New York to study for a master's degree in jazz composition at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) was an experience that led to the recording of her debut,...
CULTURE / Music / JAZZ NOTES
Jan 10, 2013
Building off that four-letter word — 'jazz'
Something I've noticed recently when browsing the jazz sections of record shops is the proliferation of sub-genres among the Japanese artists. Just hearing the names is enough to get a fan excited about the apparent explosion of creativity.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Dec 20, 2012
Jazz Collective "Jazz Collective"
If you've been to any jazz or funk gigs in the Kanto area over the last couple of years, there's a good chance you may have seen trombonist Takao Hirose up on stage. In addition to featuring in the horn section for other acts and playing on various recording sessions, Hirose also heads his own band,...
CULTURE / Music
Dec 13, 2012
For jazz fans in Japan, 2012 marked the arrival of a few new divas and some great gigs
For a genre that critics and musicians have been declaring dead for more than half a century, each year nevertheless sees new artists dipping their toes in the vast ocean that is jazz.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Dec 13, 2012
Independent route pays off for jazz act Indigo Jam Unit
Whichever way you look at it, there's something a little bit different about Indigo Jam Unit. The Osaka-based band has succeeded on its own terms, eschewing the Tokyo club-jazz crowd, but at the same time carving out their own little niche within the scene. They've adopted a slightly different approach...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Nov 9, 2012
Jazzing up the industrial city
On one side you have Montreux, a Swiss resort town on the banks of Lake Geneva that has seen many famous residents over the years, and which has been immortalized in the lyrics of the Deep Purple song "Smoke On The Water." On the other you have a Japanese city in the heart of the world's most heavily...
CULTURE / Music
Sep 13, 2012
Ozone plugs hole left by Coleman at Tokyo Jazz Festival
Improvisation has long been a key part of the jazz musician's repertoire, and the organizers of last weekend's Tokyo Jazz Festival (TJF) found themselves having to do some of their own improvising at the eleventh hour when news came through that headline act Ornette Coleman was unable to fly due to poor...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Sep 6, 2012
Soil & "Pimp" Sessions, Jaga Jazzist and Bruut! challenge jazz's conservative image
Grammy Award-winning bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding recently told the Los Angeles Times that one of the problems in bringing jazz to a wider audience was essentially one of image.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Jan 26, 2012
Ethnic Minority "Startin' ”
If you've been near Shibuya Station in Tokyo at night in the past 12 months, you may well have encountered three young guys playing up a storm to passers-by, many of whom have stopped to listen, cheer and/or dance. This trio goes by the name of Ethnic Minority, and is led by saxophonist Hiroyuki Yokota....
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Dec 29, 2011
Best of 2011: Shinpei Ruike 4 Piece Band "Sector b"
As member of the ultra-hip Naruyoshi Kikuchi Dub Sextet, Shinpei Ruike has developed an instantly identifiable sound and is arguably the best trumpeter of his generation in Japan.

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