Double bassist Tatsu Aoki leads this avant-garde ensemble in a program of creative improvised music that reflects the roots of Asian/American jazz. The instrumental timbres that he's chosen to augment this saxophone and percussion ensemble provide distinctive colors. Aoki's big, booming bass leads the way while huge taiko drums manage the session's rhythmic foundation.
The use of violin and shinobue (a Japanese flute) reaches back into tradition to instill a unique flavor. Thus, modern jazz receives an influx here from Asian culture, tying them together naturally. Aoki's bass ensures that the session remains in focus; however, he's granted the band considerable freedom on re: Rooted. The Miyumi Project's Rooted: Origins of Now (Southport, 2002) revealed Aoki's views on the evolving Asian/American experience. This time out, the band revels in the freedom that can be had through modern jazz.
Based in Chicago, Aoki was born in Tokyo into a family subsumed under an extended cultural troupe of percussionists, shamisen players and dancers. His first instrument was the taiko drum. With The Miyumi Project, he's retained tradition while enjoying the freedom allowed in modern jazz.
Aoki's eloquent double bass soliloquy on "Lacquer best describes the manner with which he wishes to communicate. His heartfelt message hits home. Under Aoki's direction, the band follows with a release that delves into the personality of Chicago's improvised music scene. As the two traditions meet, we're the recipients of this accessible and interesting performance.
Track Listing: Episode One; Episode Two; Episode Three; Shadow to Shadow and Beyond; Lacquer; Gate.
Personnel: Tatsu Aoki: double bass, shamisen (4), taiko drum (6); Mwata Bowden: baritone saxophone, clarinet; Francis Wong: soprano saxophone; Jeff Chan: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, shinobue (4); Kazu Terashima: shinobue (4); Jonathan Chen: violin; Ryan Toguri, Amy Homma, Hide Yoshihashi, Jason Matsumoto: taiko drum, percussion (4).
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.