Sunday, December 21, 2014

Alma R. H. Reyes

TRAFFIC: November Jazz Nights

Nov - Dec 2014

There’s a tingling buzz vibrating around Tokyo as a drove of powerful Japanese and Filipino music talents light up the 3rd Tokyo-Manila Jazz & Arts Festival 2014 on November 28th to 30th at various venues in Tokyo. 

Moving on towards its third year of delightful extravaganza, this ambitious project was conceptualized by the charming jazz artist, Charito, based in Japan. “Collaboration was the ultimate spice that triggered me to initiate this huge project. I've been blessed to experience jazz transcending borders. I just had to share it. Also, this festival increases jazz awareness for Filipinos, and motivates Japanese to know more about Filipino musicians. The idea had been in my head for the last five years after seeing how much help is needed to create a better situation for learning musicians, especially in the Philippines. For me, the Tokyo-Manila Jazz and Arts Festival is a dream-come-true, and is dedicated to the cultivation of young talented artists who can take part in performances with professionals. It is the festival’s goal as well to establish music scholarship funds, and to provide equipment and educational support,” Charito remarks.

Charito also heads the non-profit charity foundation, Because We Care, an initiative to aid and address the social needs of children and communities in the Philippines through music. Because We Care Foundation supported the Tokyo-Manila Jazz & Arts Festival’s debut at the Sakura Hall in Shibuya, Tokyo in 2012, that showcased outstanding musicians, such as Tsuyoshi Yamamoto, Terumasa Hino, Noriki Soichi, Benisuke Sakai, Rikitake Makoto, and others from Japan, and Sitti, Mon David, Bryan Sanchez and others from the Philippines.

Yuki Arimasa, excellent jazz pianist who taught at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, and has performed with musical greats, such as drummer Bobby Durham, trumpeter Herb Pomeroy, Daniel Smith Quartet, vocalist Tierney Sutton, and others graced the 2nd TMJAF last year. “The festival had such a great audience. The Filipino artists were so musically talented, which created the wonderful and right atmosphere for the festival,” Yuki comments about the festival. Last year’s celebration at the Solaire Resort & Casino in Manila also highlighted the spectacular Makoto Ozone, Kengo Nakamura, Hiroshi Murakami, Tess Salientes, Jeannie Tiongco, Gene Jackson, and more. Yuki Arimasa performs once more this year, joining Benisuke Sakai, Tsuyoshi Takayama, Tetsuro Kawashima, Boy Katindig, Noel Cabangan, Tots Tolentino, GOW, J Phil Connection, and more, and of course, Charito, who graces the festivals every year.

Perhaps, the jazz connection between Japan and the Philippines has not been strengthened as much as it deserves, and the TMJAF aims exactly to achieve this mission. After all, jazz in the Philippines was not born overnight. From its birth in 1898, Filipinos were exposed to “black” music performed by African-American soldiers. Bebop soon emerged as a convenient outlet for “frustration and inner turmoil” for Filipinos during the war. Filipino jazz bands made their smooth presence all over Asia during the 1920s to 1940s, and that is why the jazz “tradition” of traveling Filipino bands never became stale till today. In fact, it was the influx of “Pinoy” bands to Japan during the 1920s, especially around Osaka and Kobe that prompted Japanese musicians to put up dance halls. Yuki Arimasa remarks, “Artists work with energy. When different energies are mixed around and stimulate each other, we can find these nerves to be fresh and new in our inner selves. It is such a wonderful opportunity for Japanese musicians to be in the international scene, to receive inspiration that we could not easily find by playing only in Japan.” Charito adds, “Filipinos have a natural affinity with standard jazz. I grew up listening to timeless classics on the radio because my parents loved them. Yet, we never got to hear how jazz grew and progressed to the more contemporary creative side that it is now. American pop music culture took over. But, thanks to the recent jazz boom in Asia, more musicians are now trying to find their own sound and originality, and jazz is back and here to stay.”

Don’t miss this spectacular celebration!

The Tokyo Manila Jazz & Arts Festival 2014 details are as follows:
November 28th, Friday, 18:30~
Shinjuku Ushigome Tansu Civic Hall

November 29th, Saturday, 20:00~
Body & Soul

November 30th, Sunday
Akasaka Civic Center Civic Hall

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