The cross-pollination of Asian and American music comes alive on the new recording Rooted: Origins of Now by Japanese composer:bassist Tatsu Aoki. The project which is sponsored by the Jazz Institute of Chicago is another example of a commissioned work that combines composed music and jazz improvisation as in the recent work by the American Saxophone Quartet: Commission Project
Tatsu a Chicago native since 1978 was born in Tokyo and is the most recorded Asian-American bassist in U.S. jazz history. He has performed with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and has been involved in many jazz projects across the country. He's currently Executive Producer of Asian Improv Records in San Francisco.
In this setting Mr. Aoki leads the Miyumi Project Big Band, which consists of local Asian talent in the Chicago community, as well as African music comrades Mwata Bowden and Ameen Muhammad on horns and percussion. The project's brainchild germinated over the past few years and was realized during the 2001 Chicago Jazz Festival.
The music for the project consists of a four-part music narrative, which tells the personal story of Aoki's immigration to the United States. Each part is colorful in its execution and invites interpretation that is not restricted to normal melodies or forms. Deep jazz influences and other elements of rock & roll, and rhythm & blues, help to mold the project's soul. The roots of the music are based on traditional Japanese rhythms and sounds, with cultural instruments such as taiko and trap drums. Combine these elements with an array of rhythms and styles in contemporary popular music and the project takes on a life of its own. With a vast array of unique sounds, eclectic instruments, and talented musicians, Rooted: Origins of Now is an impressive project that gives light to the cultural richness we possess here in this country.
Track Listing: Part One: Now; Part Two: Origin; Part Three: 1.5 Generation; Part Four:...of Now, As Well; Origin: Chamber Version.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.