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The Miyumi Project Big Band: Rooted: Origins Of Now

Jim Santella By

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Ceremonial drums open the session. Tatsu Aoki wrote the music to chronicle the changes that take place in the life of an Asian immigrant to the United States. At first, only traditional methods will suffice. Everything must be as it was back home. In time, the family begins to grow, social horizons expand, and foreign staples begin to make their way into your household. The next thing you know, the kids are eating pizza and hot dogs, and they can't find any more room for the casserole you worked so hard to prepare. The cultural freedom the children enjoy begins to feed your dreams. Instead of pining for a return to the old ways, you find yourself picking the best of all possible worlds. Fashion, visual arts, the cinema, literature, diet, recreation and material goods have all been affected. No, you haven't lost your culture. You've discovered how to reinforce it, while enjoying a world full of options.

Aoki interprets those lifestyle changes through music. By combining free jazz with traditional Japanese rhythms, he's able to describe the shifts with certainty. In the beginning, pomp and circumstance rules the landscape. Before jazz, New Orleans had street bands that conformed to set standards. Cultures all over the world have similar bands that adhere to a strict formula. By the time Louis Armstrong hit Chicago, the rules had changed. Fifty years later, free improvisation was making similar inroads. Today, we find jazz following many different trails; yet it continues to hold onto its freedom.

Aoki depicts a similar tale. The discovery of personal and family freedom moves his suite from simple harmonies and repetitive rhythms through adventurous solo and ensemble eruptions. Mwata Bowden supplies much of the energetic freedom. His solo work leaves a lasting impression. Everyone participates, however, as the leader has planned. Together, they form a comprehensive statement that describes highly personal shifts in daily living, as well as historic leaps made in the development of jazz.


Track Listing: Part One: Now; Part Two: Origin; Part Three: 1.5 Generation; Part Four:

Personnel: Tatsu Aoki- bass on "Part Two: Origin," taiko drum, leader, composer; Mwata Bowden- baritone saxophone, digeridoo; Ameen Muhammad- trumpet, percussion; Taku Akiyama- alto saxophone; Toru Hironaka- tenor saxophone; Jonathan Chen- violin, electronics; Hiroshi Eguchi- bass; Ryan Toguri, Hide Yoshihashi, Jason Matsumoto- taiko drum; Mia Park- drums; Yoko Noge- vocal on "Part Four:

Title: Rooted: Origins Of Now | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Jazz Institute of Chicago


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