Swing dancers at the Swingposium
The San Jose Japantown Immersive was a inspiring and entertaining community cultural celebration of the local performing artists, artisans, and businesses who live or work in Japan-town held on May 12, 2018. It was also the 45 year anniversary of internationally known San Jose Taiko. The event was also a way for the public to understand the history and culture of Japan-town and it’s people. The highlight of the event was the breathtaking Swingposium with Wesley Jazz Ensemble, Epic Immersive, and San Jose Taiko and the Finale with The Get Down Dance Studio, DJ Cutso, and San Jose Taiko. There were also a public art piece with art studio Arsenal, swing dance lessons, Nichi Bei Busan kimono photo booth, old black and white samurai movies, and LED uchiwa fan making.
Group performing near Sakuragicho Station in Yokohama
I attended the impressive Yokohama Jazz Promenade 2017 in October. The festival was held on October 7th and 8th and included over several hundred jazz performers. The event was immense and it included about 33 venues, 25 jazz clubs, professionals and amateurs, and foreign musicians. The Jazz Promenade Yokohama was started in 1993 by citizens and musicians in Yokohama. Every year over 120,000 visitors attend the popular music festival. Yokohama is also called “Jazz Hometown of Japan.”
Will Calhoun performed at the International Jazz Day at the San Jose Hammer Theatre sponsored by San Jose Jazz and San Jose State University on Sunday April 30, 2017. One of the highlights of his performance was him performing the Japanese folk tune “Doll of the Bride” during his tribute to Elvin Jones. Will Calhoun is a talented and charismatic drummer based in the Bronx, New York. He received the Buddy Rich Jazz Master Award and was recognized as the best drummer by Rolling Stone Magazine. Mr. Calhoun is not like a typical jazz drummer and incorporates rock, as well as, hip-hop and ambient sounds into his music which probably differentiates him from other contemporary drummers. In addition to rock band Living Colour, Will has toured and recorded with B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Harry Belafonte, Pharoah Sanders, The Allman Brothers, Carly Simon, Herb Alpert, Wayne Shorter. And he recorded with Run-DMC and Public Enemy.
Denise Donatelli, a Grammy nominated jazz singer from New York, performed at the 2016 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest on Saturday, August 13th. Her evening show took people completely from their routine to enjoy the moment at Café Stritch. She magically transported the audience into her world of music with her positive energy, charm and charisma. Some of Denise’s noted songs include: 1. Soul Shadows 2. When Lights are Low 3. Ocean 4. Big Noise, New York.
Denise’s history begins from Allentown, Pennsylvania where she learned classical piano at the age of four. Later she was influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, and Miles Davis. The members of her band include: Geoffrey Keezer, piano, Leonardo Amuedo, guitar, Carlitos del Puerto, bass, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, drums, and Walter Rodriguez, percussion.
Article and photograph contributed by Yuki Yamakawa
Courtesy of Savant Records
Red Baraat, a skilled eight member band from Brooklyn, New York vigorously performed at the 2016 San Jose Jazz Festival on August 12, 2016. Some of the songs performed at the Festival included favourites Gaadi of Truth, Chaal Baby, and Shruggy Ji. They are directed by leader and dhol player Sunny Jain. The group has developed a worldwide audience because their music is very engaging, energetic, and brings people together. Sunny Jain classifies Red Baraat’s music as a combination of Brooklyn fusion mix such as North Indian bhangra, jazz, go-go (a funk style from Washington DC), funk, and hip-hop. Red Baraat members are: Sunny Jain (dhol), Rohin Khemani (percussion), Chris Eddleton (drumset), Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), Jonathon Haffner (soprano sax), Sonny Singh (trumpet), Ernest Stuart (trombone),and John Altieri (sousaphone). Please support and check out their music.
On Super Bowl Sunday in San Jose I photographed the Kenya B Trio at the Plaza de César Chávez. Created in 2013 by Kenya Baker (left in picture), they are some of the best local musicians that plays with drive and energy and performs jazz, old skool funk, blues, and R&B. Kenya is a long time touring musician and was the lead guitarist for British singer/songwriter Joss Stone as well as performing with Sly Stone, Larry Graham, The Whispers, and Tony! Toni! Tone! Kenya also worked in Tupac Shukar to create the song “So Many Tears.” Kenya B Trio plays regularly at Blondie’s Bar in San Francisco on Sunday and Tuesday evenings and are worth listening to.