The streets are alive with the sound of jazz


Staff Writer

Shunzo Ohno is a man committed to his dream. Even after a motor bike accident and a battle with cancer, he can still play a mean trumpet.

Ohno is one of the many talented musicians who will perform at this year’s annual Yokohama Jazz Promenade. While everyone has a story, Ohno’s is perhaps one of the most compelling.

He was already a successful trumpeter when, in 1988, he was in a traffic accident that critically lacerated his lips and knocked out his front teeth. Hardly eight years had passed since that accident when another career crisis befell him in a form of tonsillar cancer that eventually cost him one of his salivary glands.

Nonetheless, Ohno never abandoned his instrument, and his tenacious passion for the trumpet is no doubt what is bringing him to perform at Jazz Promenade for the first time.

Along with Ohno, the two-day jazz festival will feature other new faces. Among them is trumpeter Yusuke Shima, who, despite his relatively young career of 10 years, has collaborated with other musicians on more than 250 albums. He is also one half of Shima & Shikou Duo with pianist Shikou Ito. The two drew media attention following their Fuji Rock Festival set in 2007, when they attracted a surprising turnout of 1,500 people.

Other featured musicians include Tokyo-based American jazz singer Harvey Thompson, and Legend, a group of five Japanese opera singers.

These professional musicians will perform at various jazz clubs and halls interspersed throughout the city, but that’s not the only way visitors can get lost in the allure of jazz music. All they have to do is take a casual stroll around the city, where around 200 amateur jazz bands will perform on the street to further boost the festive atmosphere.

With the city-wide jazz concert celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, organizers attribute its longevity to the continued support of Yokohama residents. They are also quick to assure visitors from all over of a great experience. As they put it: “We all know, this year it is going to be really special.”

Yokohama Jazz Promenade 2012 takes place at various locations in Yokohama on Oct. 6 and 7. Tickets cost ¥ 5,000. For more information, call: (045) 221 0212, or visit www.jazzpro.jp (in Japanese).