Michael Pronko

Michael Pronko writes essays for ST Shukan. He also writes for his own website Jazz in Japan, as well as for Newsweek Japan and Artscape Japan. He has published three books of essays about Tokyo and teaches American literature, culture and film at Meiji Gakuin University.

For Michael Pronko's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Music / CD Reviews Mar 16, 2007

Mark Murphy "Love Is What Stays"

"Love is What Stays" shows again why Mark Murphy is a singer's singer, the kind of person whose live shows draw audiences filled with singers (pros and wannabes) as well as fans. Murphy's singing has always had an urgent honesty to it, as if ...

McCoy Tyner looks back on Coltrane and a lifetime in jazz

Music Mar 2, 2007

McCoy Tyner looks back on Coltrane and a lifetime in jazz

McCoy Tyner ranks as one of the most important piano stylists in post-war jazz. His recordings with the John Coltrane Quartet, such as 1964's "A Love Supreme," remain high points of musical improvisation and spirituality. The mid-'60s music created by Coltrane, Tyner, bassist Jimmy ...

Carlos Johnson

Music / Concert Previews Feb 23, 2007

Carlos Johnson

Chicago bluesman Carlos Johnson is the whole package: deep gravelly voice, thick-timbered guitar and a knack for wry lyrics. After backing blues stars from Otis Rush to Son Seals to Koko Taylor, he has now become one of the pre-eminent blues players of his ...

Music / CD Reviews Feb 9, 2007

Russell Gunn "Plays Miles"

One of the "young lions" coming up in Wynton Marsalis' wake, Russell Gunn received acclaim for his "Ethnomusicology" series that combined hip-hop and jazz with daunting bravado. Gunn now releases an album of reworkings of Miles Davis tunes, perhaps to nail down more trad ...

Music / Concert Previews Feb 2, 2007

Banda Caliente Grande

Tokyo is home to the largest concentration of big bands of any city in the world. Every night of the year, student, amateur and pro bands are digging into music charts someplace in the city. Banda Caliente Grande However, the ...

Music / CD Reviews Jan 26, 2007

Gal Costa "Today"

Though Gal Costa has been a mainstay of Brazilian popular music for three decades, "Today" is perhaps her best work yet. The energetic, playful style of her youth has now reached a richer maturity. Nestled in lean Brazilian accompaniment, she sings with a natural, ...

Music / CD Reviews Jan 19, 2007

Don Byron "Do the Boomerang"

Multi-reedist Don Byron experiments in the broadest sense. On each new project, whether klezmer, free jazz, or neo-swing, Byron plays with fresh musical elements, puts his stamp on them, and makes them shine. His latest CD joyously celebrates his roots in the 1960s soul ...

Music / CD Reviews Jan 12, 2007

Dr. Lonnie Smith "Jungle Soul"

Hammond B-3 organ-master Lonnie Smith's 20-some recordings have never strayed from his jazz-funk roots, but never before has he dug down so deep as on his newest, "Jungle Soul." Gone is the big, greasy sound of 2004's "Too Damn Hot!" and in its place pulsing ...

Music / CD Reviews Dec 8, 2006

Xiomara "Xiomara"

Nueva Trova ("new ballad") is Cuba's latest contribution to world music. One of the best of the new singers of these ballads is Havana-born Xiomara Laugart, whose debut presents the musical equivalent of slow food -- calm and seductive, the contrast with wilder dance ...

Ub-X freely tinkers with the engine of jazz

Music | JAZZNICITY Dec 1, 2006

Ub-X freely tinkers with the engine of jazz

Piano, bass and drums form the engine of jazz. Most jazz bands build on this foundation by adding other instruments, while a select few work from within to upend the conventions of the piano trio and fashion a completely new sound. Ub-X, one of ...