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Tag: Crossover Jazz

Kyoto Jazz Massive Turns 20

Kyoto Jazz Massive Turns 20

Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.

–Charles Mingus

Kyoto Jazz Massive on a Blue Note Mission by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

Inventions & Dimensions - Herbie Hancock

Inventions & Dimensions (1964) is the third album by Herbie Hancock, featuring Herbie Hancock – piano, Paul Chambers – bass, Willie Bobo – drums, timbales, and Osvaldo “Chihuahua” Martinez – percussion (not on track 5).

In order to define the new album Mission by Kyoto Jazz Sextet (Blue Note Japan, 2015), and the renaissance of Crossover Jazz in Japan one needs to step back into the past. Specifically into the back catalogues of Blue Note Records. Started by Francis Wolff and Alfred Lion in the 30s, the jazz label became known for producing some of the most infamous hard-bop albums of the 60s. Wolff was known for taking photos of artists during studio sessions, sometimes obtrusively, and getting great work in the process. His iconic photos fill the album covers of the Blue Note Discography. Which begs the question, what are the roots of Shuya Okino’s Crossover Jazz empire? Where did it come from? How is it coming to define 21st-century Tokyo and the world beyond?

Jazz transformed from Ragtime to Swing to Bebop before it entered the pivotal era of the 50s and 60s. Miles Davis Birth of the Cool Modal revolution and its West Coast and Bossa Nova tendencies spread from the east coast of the US, across the country and throughout the world. Along with Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Pharaoh Sanders, Ornette Coleman pioneered the improvisational brand of Free Jazz that led to Soul, Fusion and Funk. The instrumental basis of swing had already been wildly popularized abroad, and its ability to cross into lands across the globe without passport made it one of the quickest music genres to evolve into a music any country could call their own. While jazz may have been an exclusively American invention, by the late 60s it truly had become the world music.

Jazz has been big in Japan for a century. Fumio Nanri, Ryoichi Hattori, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Yosuke Yamshita, Tadao Watanabe, to name a few, were all stellar musicians in their own right who sought to overcome criticisms of being derivative. Anyone can play a horn, pluck a bass, strum a guitar or pound a snaredrum, and a vast majority of Japanese jazz musicians were able to do so, finding themselves to be almost freakishly good at technical playing, but were missing the intangible touch of flair that was new and exciting, the j’ai ne sais quoi still good enough to remind fans of the masters from before. Music thirsts for artistry beyond mere musical ability. Jazz needs soul.

Kyoto Jazz Massive - Spirit of the Sun

Spirit of the Sun (2004) by Kyoto Jazz Massive features Shuya Okino, Yoshihiro Okino, Yasushi Kurobane, and Hajime Yoshizawa

Enter Shuya and Yoshi Okino. Looking backward has never been the Okino brothers forte. They are too forward facing to do so. Yet unable to escape the grand sounds coming out of the past, they have opted for their own special brand of break beat jazz. DJing, composing, arranging, supervising and producing music, they are not a group in the traditional sense. They don’t put out albums the way the music industry wants artists to do. They work at their own pace with numerous talented people across the vast panopoly of the musicsphere, like pianist and producer Hajime Yoshizawa and composer and saxophonist Naruyoshi Kikuchi. Seriously, these guys love to play live. They DJ. They run a record label / music shop. They come to get down. Releasing studio albums can wait.

They formed Kyoto Jazz Massive as a DJ unit in the early 90s, releasing the compilation Kyoto Jazz Massive V.A.. But between running a Tokyo nightclub (Shuya Okino is the owner of The Room, the influential Club Jazz/Crossover music club in Shibuya), and a record label Especial Records (Yoshi Okino operates Especial in Osaka, putting out albums by Root Soul, Sleep Walker, and Hajime Yoshizawa, Dj Kawasaki), the brothers came to the attention of a worldwide audience in a prime moment just before the release of Kyoto Jazz Massive’s first single, “Eclipse” and the release of the subsequent album Spirit of the Sun (Compost Records, 2002), when they were popularized (and named) by the BBC Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson in 2001. They began to tour, bringing the best Crossover Jazz to the Americas, Europe and Asia in a soulful effort to bridge musical as well as cultural divides. You can get a sense of how audiences might feel while seeing a slickly dressed DJ revving up the turntables opposite trumpeters and trombonists tuning up. It’s a bit befuddling. But once the warbles turn to warm notes and the band begins to lock in step it is easy to see how the scene has grown to encapsulate an eclectic ensemble of the best live jazz musicians in conjunction with mad beat architecture: two of the things Shuya Okino holds dear.

In our interview with Shuya he recalls a live show he played in France more than a decade ago:

We played Hiphop, Jazz, House, Techno, Brazil, Latin, Africa, Disco, Boogie, Drum n’ Bass, Break beats, Soul, Funk, Arabian & so on. But in France I’d heard that Club Jazz is a difficult thing. I guess what left an impression on me was when I visited in 2000 thinking that nobody would come. What I can’t forget to this day is the rush of the packed venue and the open-minded audience.

Kyoto Jazz Massive Turns 20

Much like the ethos of Free Jazz, Shuya’s Crossover Jazz places the emphasis on improvisation via new technology. Yet that the technology does not define the music is what is so masterful. The latest package, called Kyoto Jazz Sextet, was created to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the formation of Kyoto Jazz Massive. Mission features seven songs selected from 1963 to 1966 to reflect the distinct Blue Note sound of the period. Herbie Hancock, Waybe Shorter, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson and Hank Mobley were all prominent musicians for Blue Note and the nature of these times and songs not only allows for improvisation, it begs for it. Yusuke Hirado (Piano – Quasimode), Ruike Shinpei (Trumpet – DCPRG), Takeshi Kurihara (Tenor Sax – Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro), Koizumi “P” Yoshihito (Bass – Matsuura Toshio presents HEX) and Masanori Amakura (Drums) (joined by Kikuchi Naruyoshi on “Speak No Evil” and “Eclipse”) play vintage musical instruments throughout the recording. Eventually mastering and editing the results using analog methods, the band takes the homage to trad jazz to the next level, crossing-over with samples, loops, mash-ups and improvisation, all by the musicians themselves without post-production digital input. Complicated yet sounding so simple, it’s gorgeous. Closing out this tribute to mid-60s Blue Note era is the Kyoto Jazz Massive track ‘Eclipse’, featuring acclaimed saxophonist Kikuchi Naruyoshi (also plays on “Speak No Evil”). Apart from his usual arranging and production duties, Shuya actually plays as a member of the live band, which is at the heart of Crossover. During live shows at The Room in Shibuya members of the sextet frequently change, often giving more intimate versions of big band live shows.

Track List

Kyoto Jazz Massive Turns 20

Kyoto Jazz Sextet – Mission

1. Search for the New Land (Lee Morgan)
2. Speak No Evil (Wayne Shorter)
3. The Melting Pot (Freddie Hubbard)
4. Succotash (Herbie Hancock)
5. Mr. Jin (Wayne Shorter)
6 Jinrikisha (Joe Henderson)
7. Up a Step (Hank Mobley)
8. Eclipse (Kyoto Jazz Massive)

Produced by Shuya Okino
Co-produced by Kenichi Ikeda (Root Soul)
Supervised by Yoshihiro Okino

All songs arranged by Shuya Okino & Kenichi Ikeda, except
2 by Shuya Okino, Kenichi Ikeda & Takeshi Kurihara
4 by Shuya Okino, Kenichi Ikeda & Yusuke Hirado

Shuya adds, “As for the next album, because it depends on my brother as well, I can’t really say, but isn’t it amusing we only put one out every 10 years?”

If you’re not in Japan, and nowhere near KJM’s next tour, you should get the album (from Especial Records) now.

Kamasi Washington – The Epic

“It’s hard to find unique voices in this music. Especially in jazz, more so lately, everybody is trying to do the same shit. I don’t want to hear ‘My Favorite Things’ anymore… What I am hearing is a leader among artists.”

–Flying Lotus

The Beard – EP 123 – Kamasi Washington by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

Kamasi Washington – The Epic

Kamasi Washington - The Epic

Kamasi Washington – The Epic

The Epic, the solo release from young Los Angeles jazz composer and bandleader Kamasi Washington, just out on Brainfeeder, the underground label from producer/musician Flying Lotus, completely demolishes the bar for contemporary jazz standards. Primarily in its approach:

The Epic is a 172-minute, three-volume set that features a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-person choir, and 17 songs overlaid with a compositional score written by Washington. The base ten-piece band, some of the best young musicians around all out of Los Angeles – including bassist Thundercat and his brother, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., bassist Miles Mosley, drummer Tony Austin, keyboard player Brandon Coleman, pianist Cameron Graves, and trombonist Ryan Porter with Patrice Quinn on vocals – are often referred to as “The West Coast Get Down”.

Secondly, the band has been jamming together for years. Washington, 32, has known Bruner since he was two. The rest met in high school. The hours they have put into the music, playing together and practicing alone, total cumulatively in the tens of thousands.

This is what happens when talented youth is exposed to music from birth – a tenor saxophone jazz prodigy is born. As the apocryphal story goes, At the age of 13 Kamasi Washington picked up his father’s soprano saxophone, and even though he didn’t know anything about it, he played Wayne Shorter’s “Sleeping Dancer Sleep On”. Already well versed in the drums, piano, and clarinet it was at that moment that the saxophone became his instrument of choice.

Instead of playing music part time and going through the rote motions of dreary high school, Kamasi played and studied at the prestigious Hamilton High School Music Academy, forming his first band with childhood friends Ronald and Stephen Bruner on drums and bass, along with pianist Cameron Graves, called “The Young Jazz Giants”. His education continued as Kamasi went on to study Ethnomusicology at UCLA, recording his first album with The Young Jazz Giants, and eventually toured with Snoop Dog. He joined The Gerald Wilson orchestra, went on his first international tour with RnB legend Raphael Saadiq, played with legendary jazz artist such as McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Burrell, and George Duke. At the same time he was working with Lauryn Hill, Jeffrey Osborne, Mos Def, and Quincy Jones. While still taking courses at UCLA. His vision of work experience is as avant garde and forward-thinking as his “Next Step” music is a modern spin on a big band, with two drummers, two bassist upright and electric, piano and keyboards, three horns and a vocalist. Recently Kamasi has been touring with legendary musicians Stanley Clarke, Harvey Mason, and Chaka Khan. He’s featured on Harvey Mason’s latest album “Chameleon”, Stanley Clarke’s latest and the last two Flying Lotus albums. The man is prolific.

Kamasi Washington - The Epic

Kamasi Washington – The Epic

The Epic Vol.1: The Plan
1. Change of the Guard 12:16
2. Askim 12:35
3. Isabelle 12:13
4. Final Thought 6:32
5. The Next Step 14:49
6. The Rhythm Changes 7:44

The Epic Vol.2: The Glorious Tale
1. Miss Understanding 8:46
2. Leroy and Lanisha 9:24
3. Re Run 8:20
4. Seven Prayers 7:36
5. Henrietta Our Hero 7:14
6. The Magnificent 7 12:46

The Epic Vol.3: The Historic Repetition
1. Re Run Home 14:06
2. Cherokee 8:14
3. Clair de Lune 11:08
4. Malcolm’s Theme 8:41
5. The Message 11:09

Tim & Puma Mimi and the apple

The Stone Collection Of Tim & Puma Mimi

Tim & Puma Mimi and the apple

Tim & Puma Mimi and the apple

As the sparse synthesizer and video games breaks beep to life on the first track of The Stone Collection Of Tim & Puma Mimi we hear a Puma Mimi ask a question, “Acchi, kocchi, acchi, kocchi, dochi ni ikou?” (Here, there, here, there, which way to go?). It is unclear if she’s asking us or herself. And with the range of musical genres represented on the album (hip hop, dance, electronic, J-pop, crossover jazz, fruit), this might be emblematic of the album itself. At its heart, it’s a fun and accessible (even if you don’t speak Japanese) musical metaphor for modern Tokyo living.

Much as the album defies straightforward definition, so too does how Tim and Puma Mimi met (“We met at the Santa Klaus party in the Netherlands in the end of 2003.”), and eventually came to live and make music in Tokyo.

In places it is a throwback album of beautiful voicework and analog instruments, yet its modern synthesizers, canned drumbeats and use of fruit as instrument (what?!) belie the way it was made–not in the studio, but in Puma Mimi’s small 1DK (One Dining Kitchen Apartment) flat in Shinagawa, Tokyo.

HESO: How do you make music? digitally, analoguely, with fresh produce or all of the above?

Tim: All of them, we don’t have rules, how to produce, it just has to bring the song to a cool shape. The cucumber is electronic, the flute acoustic, mostly I use the micro Korg, but sometimes Fender Rhodes or Mini Moog, or even plug-ins, but I don’t like midi.

More than just the multi-instrumentalist genre-mashing, the way the songs are made reflects on the private/personal relationship between life and music, recording and touring, loving and playing. Having met and seen a bright future, both musically and romantically, they soon had to part because of the technicalities of bureaucratic life–visas, work, nationality. But long distance relationshipping didn’t stop them from making music. The Skype concert series soon sprang to life, with Tim touring clubs Europe and skype-casting Mimi singing live from her kitchen in Tokyo. This, plus their growing number of singles, created a following and got them into electro-festivals across Europe. But it wasn’t enough.

HESO: You wrote and recorded your album in Mimi’s tiny Tokyo apartment, but where are you now?

Tim: Now we live in Zurich, bit bigger apartment, but still all instruments in bedroom. It’s in Kreis 4, the melting pot of underground Zurich (yes that exists too in Zurich, beside being a super-expensive and clean old town famed for the Bahnhofstrasse). Sometimes we rent a music-room, but it’s often underground and humid.

Tim & Puma Mimi Live at Womb in Tokyo

Tim & Puma Mimi Live at Womb in Tokyo

HESO: Tim, what is your impression of Japan? Puma Mimi, Switzerland?

Tim: Japan? First I was disappointed, I had a picture of crazy colorful people, but 90% of people in Tokyo wear black suits. But after two weeks you start to understand, why they don’t look into your eyes, that they have different lines to queue for next train. After two months you start to love it, but I’m not sure if I will ever feel at home there.

Mimi: I like Zürich very much because I can get both city and nature life at once. I grew up in the northern part of Japan where I enjoyed nature, but as a teenager, it was boring. No concert places, no exhibitions. Even the last cinema in the town went bankrupt, and turned to be a Karaoke house (yeah! of course we had Karaoke!). Then I went to Tokyo to study when I was 19. Tokyo was so exciting, creative fashion, fast information, music, arts and so on…. I enjoyed it a lot. But sometimes, I couldn’t breathe. I missed nature, fresh air, fresh water, quietness, the sky. Compared to Tokyo, Zürich is very small, but there are many things going on in this “little big city”. Lake water is very clean. And I can get to deep nature in 10 min by train. That’s perfect combination for me. Besides Zürich, I like mountain area in Ticino, old stone houses and sharp mountains. It’s so nice to walk there.

HESO: If your beats and words are inspired by the cramped and crowded Tokyo lifestyle, what happens when you have all of the Alps from which to take inspiration?

Tim: I would love to do calm, maybe even spiritual music, but always when I try it, I think that doesn’t work, audience would fall asleep, or just start talking. I would like to do live music for yoga or something similar.

Mimi:I try to write about something around me. So Alps could be a good inspiration too. But the problem is that the nature is very powerful. So, when I go to mountains, I become wordless. It takes more time to write about the nature than about concrete jungle… at least, for me.

Tim & Puma Mimi on the Phone by David Thayer 2011

Tim & Puma Mimi on the Phone by David Thayer 2011

On the lenitive “Tamago” the album takes a turn from the fun and playfully amateurish upbeat Electro-J-pop to a more serious and contemplative nature. It is not a coincidence that this comes halfway through the Stone Collection. From this point on, especially on “Green Blood Circulation”, even when the music returns to previous form, the songs retain a depth and a progressive movement toward some far-off point that we can’t quite see, but know is out there.

HESO: How do you come up with ideas for songs? Albums? Videos? Live performances? Who does what?

Tim: I produce the songs. Mimi writes texts and melody lines. Musically it’s just trial and error, sometimes it works, sometimes doesn’t. I give the recordings over to Mimi. In a bigger view I would say: The ideas grow in our heads and sometimes we can pick up the fruits. Inspirations are: fleamarkets, walking in cities and mountains, watching concerts, movies, reading books.

Mimi: About lyrics: I try to express my inner feeling by describing daily objects around me. For example, I came up with lines for “Giacometti” when I saw the poster of Giacometti hanging in the room where we were recording. And the text begins with “To talk to Giacometti, I don’t need words….”. Something like that. Melody line: it’s all depends on Tim’s music. When Tim gives me an idea of song, then I listen to it many times and try to jam (hum) with lyrics I already have.

HESO: The album has dropped. What happens next?

Tim: In a week we visit China for 3 weeks, travelling with a bunch of musicians and do live music to silent movies. Later this Year I want to build a do-it yourself-kit of my Fruitilyzer, that people can build their own Fruitilyzer and electrify new fruits and vegetables.

HESO: Can you write a very short song-poem about your favorite food?

Mimi: I wrote this quite long ago, and try to make a song out of it, but Tim never liked my melody lines with these lyrics. So it is still un-published. Tim doesn’t like Tomato Sauce either, by the way.

トマトソース / Tomato sauce
飛び散る飛び散る/ It splashes all over
白いTシャツ / on my white T-shirts
赤いシミ/ and leaves red stains
食べるのやめるか/ Should I stop eating
トマトソース/ Tomato sauce?

いやいやそんな/ Noway, it’s
トマトソース / Tomato sauce!
だってだいすき / I love
トマトソース / Tomato sauce
ファッションは /Fashion has no chance against
食欲に敵わない / appetite

HESO: I love Tomato Sauce. Thanks guys. Check out their site for more fun with fruits and beats.

Interview with Tim & Puma Mimi is part of HESO Magazine’s ongoing (late) Summer Interview Series, where we interview photographers, musicians and artists about their work and what they think about the world of 2012. We may ask them similar questions, but the answers have been anything but the same old canned responses. Check out the entire series here.

Gebrüder Teichmann - Machines Take Over the World

Gebrüder Teichmann – Machines Take Over the World

On Gebrüder Teichmann‘s latest album, They Made Us Do It (Festplatten, 2011) the Teichmann brothers point the way to the future by melding an understanding of the past with thick dance-y beats that make you want to question the present…on the dancefloor. Being designated Germany’s electronic musical ambassadors by the Goethe-Institut has not only not gone to their heads, but has helped broadened their horizons from the local Berlin club scene to countries that at first glance may not seem very conducive to jazz-inflected breakbeats or modern electronic music at all. But are these vinyl-spinning Brothers Teichmann really “modern”? A look at the cover of They Made Us Do It provides many cultural hints as to their love of what some might call an esoteric past: a Technicolor cityscape of strange-headed humanoids being overrun by 12″ UFOs and bag-headed giants in black Krautrock outfits. It begs more than a listen and, like the aliens we so feared in those old Sci-fi flicks, it…they, the machines, covet your body.

The machines seem to be nice, but who knows? Click To Tweet

Gebrüder Teichmann – Machines Take Over the World

Gebrüder Teichmann - Machines Take Over the World

Teichmann Brothers They Made Us Do It (Festplatten 2011)

HESO: The title of the album, They Made Us Do It, refers to someone or something making you do something. Who is making you do what exactly?

TEICHMANN: What happened was an unexpected synthesizer accident: we were working in the studio as usual, when somehow the machines took over the power and from that moment strange things happened. It feels like we are now connected to the control voltages of our machines, but we don´t have too many memories of what happened.

HESO: The cover art is reminiscent of Science Fiction book and film posters of the 50s and 60s when aliens came to take over the earth. What are the machines’ intentions with humanity?

TEICHMANN: That´s actually a good question. As Sasha Pereira says on the intro track: “The machines seem to be nice, but who knows?” We also have the feeling that there are problems with the time continuum now, as the UFOs that were seen, are 12″ vinyl shaped, not i-phonish. So they are definitely from the past or maybe it’s the future…

HESO: Beyond the artwork, there are several distinct references to various musical genres on the album itself: jazz, krautrock, house, even classical strings. What are the core musical elements you create an album with? Where do you begin?

TEICHMANN: Sometimes we start from a idea (a style or tempo) or concept for a track, but often we just start jamming. Togehter with our machines there is allways something interesting happening.

HESO: If I understand this correctly, you both, the Teichmann Brothers, are putting out the machines’ message, which is that “We are the future.” What does that future look like?

TEICHMANN: Nobody knows how the future looks. But of course you have to take care about the present, if you want to have a nice one…

HESO: Where did the idea for this album come from?

Gebrüder Teichmann - Machines Take Over the World

The Masked Musicians Teichmann Brothers

TEICHMANN: We had too many ideas and the research process was a long one. We had a lot of inspirations from our travels and collaborations and wanted to do something that is both experimental and dance-y. While making music, we mostly use analog gear, as well as we still play only vinyls in the club. So the link was already there. The hardest part was to bring all the material on one rccord, that still tells one story, which helps you to find the right way while creating the music, but during the DJ- or Live-set we like to tell a new story. ‘Cause playing live is always an interaction with the place and the people.

HESO: Do the both of you have any specific talents when it comes to producing an album, i.e. does Andi always do this particular mix or Hannes creates the beats? How do you collaborate?

TEICHMANN: Hannes is always doing the particular mix and Andi creates the beats. No just joking! Actually Hannes is more the sound guy, Andi more the concept guy. The rest is live-jamming, recording, editing, mixing.

HESO: Speaking of collaboration, do you have a core group of artists that you generally work with or do you seek to expand your musical horizons by working with musicians from different genres?

TEICHMANN: We always want to expand our horizons by working with different musicians and artists. It brings fresh ideas and inspiration but apart from a musical point of view, it also creates a lot of great experiences. It´s a social and artistic dialogue. That’s why we love to collaborate with people from different (musical) worlds.

HESO: You were designated by the Goethe-Institut to represent the German electronic scene in countries which may seem a bit odd: Algeria, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and worked on the BLNRB project, which teamed you up with other Berlin artists to create a musical exchange in Nairobi. Has this influenced your music at all? This album?

TEICHMANN: Of course. The projects and travelling to several countries influences not only our music and work, also our personal lives. The great chance to work with Goethe Institut Nairobi on BLNRB, opened up a lot of doors and posibilties, but it also brought us a strong connection with the other German artists, especially Jahcoozi.

HESO: What do you see for the future of electronic music? Music in general? More machines?

TEICHMANN: We really like the growing interest for analog live music in the electronic music scene. And we think for all music styles there are still a lot of undiscovered possibilities.

HESO: What are you listening to these days?

TEICHMANN: Very various music, only it has to be unique and leftfield. In terms of electronic music we love the new genre Skweee from Scandinavia. Beside that we are very impressed by Nisennenmondai, a girl-noise band from Japan, but we also listen to a lot of classical experimental music and start to get more into african music. But on the other hand we still discover a lot of great techno and house stuff from the 90s till now.

TEICHMANN – They Made Us Do It (Album-Teaser) by gebrueder teichmann

Do yourself a favor and get yourself an early Christmas present: buy the album.

Okino Shuya © Maria Golomidova (HESO Magazine)

Shuya Okino Interview

Shuya Okino Interview

Shuya Okino Live on the Mic…

Shuya Okino has been DJing on the international scene for more than two decades, bringing the best Crossover Jazz to the Americas, Europe and Asia in a soulful effort to bridge musical as well as cultural divides. Garnering early acclaim with Kyoto Jazz Massive’s first single, “Eclipse/Silent Messenger” and the release of the subsequent album Spirit of the Sun in 2002, it wasn’t until recently that Okino put out his own album, United Legends. Like everything Okino does, it’s original and with style. In the tradition of the genre he has brought to the forefront of international music scenes across the globe, the album was put together by invitation to ten different producers and ten different vocalists as a compilation of sorts, via email. Like Kyoto Jazz Massive itself, which came into the world as a DJ vehicle, the scene has grown to encapsulate an eclectic ensemble of the best live jazz musicians in conjunction with mad beat architecture: two of the things Shuya Okino holds dear.

The lovely and talented Maria Golomidova had a chance to sit down with Shuya recently and talk about his roots, the possibility of a new KJM album and what else he’s got on his plate.

Shuya Okino Interview

HESO Magazine: This is your 20th year as a DJ, and you’ve played on various stages throughout many different countries. What’s your greatest memory? DJing or playing live?

Shuya Okino: About 5 years ago in Paris I DJed a show together with Rainer Truby. We played every kind of music we could come up with: HIPHOP/JAZZ/HOUSE/TECHNO/BRAZIL/LATIN/AFRICA/DISCO/BOOGIE/DRUM’N’BASS/BREAK BEATS/SOUL/FUNK/ARABIAN…and so on. But in France I’d heard that Club Jazz is a difficult thing. I guess what left an impression on me was when I visited in 2000 thinking that nobody would come. What I can’t forget to this day is the rush of the packed venue and the open-minded audience.

HM: This is the first time Kyoto Jazz Massive has played live in two years. When’s the next concert? Album?

Cooking, using a stove, is somehow like DJing, isn’t it? Click To Tweet

OS: In Japan, probably in two more years (laughs). Abroad, we’ve booked in Mexico & The Netherlands and then England. As for the next album, because it depends on my brother as well, I can’t really say, but I’d like to have one come out by 2012. Isn’t it amusing we only put one out every 10 years?

HM: You write books, DJ, compose music, manage a club (The Room), organize festivals (TOKYO CROSSOVER JAZZ FESTIVAL). Is there anything else (other than music) you’d like to try?

Shuya Okino Interview

TCJF 09

OS: I’d like to try my hand at movies. Soundtracks or screenplays. Eventually even directing…? I’ve made an imaginary soundtrack called BLACK FINGER and a director from Detroit said he wants to make it into a movie! I can’t really say anything more…

HM: Can you tell us who you would like to collaborate with next? And who’s the most interesting musician on the Crossover scene?

OS: I would love to do something with Herbie Hancock, an artist whom I absolutely respect. Of the same generation, someone like Carl Craig or Tony Lionni maybe? As for the Crossover scene I’d have to say Rootsoul. Newcomers in Japan, but they make the best, funkiest, most unique music around.

HM: What kind of food do you like? Do you cook?

OS: Zucchinis, avocados, sundried tomatoes. I cook for myself three meals a day. Cooking, using a stove, is somehow like DJing, isn’t it?

When it comes to Crossover Jazz, Shuya Okino is the man. He can be found celebrating his 20th year DJing at the Tokyo Crossover Jazz Festival 2009 at Ageha 9/11/09. Check it out:

Tokyo Crossover Jazz Festival
Shuya’s Artist Page
The Room where Shuya often plays

Tokyo Crossover Jazz Festival

Tokyo Crossover Jazz Festival

Launched in 2003, Japan’s premier crossover jazz music festival is setting a new world standard for large-scale parties of its kind. This year’s festival rounded up 35 artists from around the world and included a special jazz session with the great Gilles Peterson, who was appearing for the first time; Shuya Okino’s United Legends session featuring Josh Milan (Blaze) and Navasha Daya (Fertile Ground); as well as DJ support from stars like Dego of 4Hero and 2000 Black. Those who were able to make the show at Ageha were treated to a full four sets of excellent music. Between the dynamism of live music and the innovative DJing, the genre of jazz took on whole new meanings and the crowd danced the evening to perfection.

Jazz has been big in Japan for a century. Fumio Nanri, Ryoichi Hattori, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Yosuke Yamshita, Tadao Watanabe, to name a few, were all stellar musicians in their own right who sought to overcome criticisms of being derivative. Anyone can play a horn, pluck a bass, strum a guitar or pound a snaredrum, and a vast majority of Japanese jazz musicians were able to do so, finding themselves to be almost freakishly good at technical playing, but were missing the intangible touch of flair that was new and exciting, the j’ai ne sais quoi still good enough to remind fans of the masters from before. Music thirsts for artistry beyond mere musical ability. Jazz needs soul.

Read Maria Golomidova’s interview with Okino Shuya and listen to the excellent new release from Kyoto Jazz Massive as Kyoto Jazz Sextet.

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