[JPL] Tokyo Jazz Festival
drjazz at drjazz.com
Sun Aug 27 10:57:42 EDT 2006
Tokyo Jazz: Moves into city without Herbie
Paul Jackson / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Among the most notable changes at this year's Tokyo Jazz festival are the
change of venue, the switch from Herbie Hancock to Chick Corea as top act,
and the collaboration of the festival with Tokyo's Blue Note jazz club.
While for music fans, the change in the headliner might be the most
significant development, Tokyo Jazz producer Atsuko Yashima of NHK
Enterprises believes the new venue of Tokyo International Forum is the most
important novel aspect of the fifth staging of Japan's biggest jazz festival.
"From the outset we've had a festival-in-the-city concept and we've been
saying we want to stage it right in the center of the city, so we are
finally 'storming the keep of the castle' as it were, and in the city, this
[the Tokyo International Forum] is really the only venue for us," Yashima
Cynics might jump to the conclusion that staging a festival at the Tokyo
International Forum in Yurakucho after previous venues Ajinomoto Stadium
and Tokyo Big Sight represents a scaling down of the festival, but Yashima
is having none of it. She says the new venue will provide a more intimate
"In the first few years we really wanted to make the festival stand out, to
get things going with a symbolic, brash bang, but in terms of the real
satisfaction of the public and hospitality, in some areas we were lacking.
Now, instead, we are giving more importance to these points," Yashima said.
"Many artists also said they wanted to enjoy playing closer to the audience
so reflecting this and the opinions of the public we wanted to have a venue
where artists and crowds of about 5,000 people could interact with one
another. We certainly aren't thinking in terms of the festival getting
Yashima also points out that in the Marunouchi district between Yurakucho,
Otemachi and Tokyo Station, almost 30 free events have either been staged
or are scheduled to take place in August in the buildup to the festival.
And with related events at Blue Note in Omotesando, Tokyo, Jazz will this
year reach a wider audience than ever before, she says.
But what about the departure of Hancock? Has Chick Corea taken over
Hancock's role (as he once did in the late '60s, taking Hancock's place in
Miles Davis' band)?
Yashima explains that after four fruitful years with Hancock as musical
director, the decision was made this year not to have a musical director.
In this sense, Corea has not replaced Hancock at all, she says. Instead of
having a musical director this year, organizers opted for utilizing a wider
range of people to choose the lineup and format of the main event. In this
way the event can develop further, very much in the spirit of Hancock, and
it's a move he supported wholeheartedly, she says.
Whether he is happy about it or not, Hancock is gone and so is his
distinctive Super Session concept. Instead the focus will be on audiences
getting to hear their favorite performers playing their regular sets. There
will still be some surprises, though, Yashima says.
That Hancock has parted ways with Tokyo Jazz is not such a shock on
reflection, given that almost all major music festivals make a point of
changing their headline acts each year to keep things fresh and the tickets
selling. After all, when it comes to a question of a festival's well-being,
the long-term interests must surely take precedence.
So with the festival learning to stand up on its own reputation rather than
that of Hancock, perhaps this year's Tokyo Jazz can be seen as a coming of
age as the event finally looks to find its feet in the metropolis that
gives it its name.
Tokyo Jazz featuring Chick Corea, Hank Jones, Marcus Miller, John
Patitucci, Frank McComb, Omar Hakim, Sadao Watanabe, Hiromi Uehara, Larry
Carlton, Shibusa Shirazu, Juan Formell and Los Van Van, Incognito, Joyce
and more will take place Sept. 2-3, 12:30 p.m. at Tokyo International Forum
in Yurakucho, Tokyo, (03) 3498-9999. Recorded highlights of the festival
will be shown on one of NHK's BS channels with unconfirmed dates of Sept.
30 and Oct. 1.
(Aug. 26, 2006)
Dr. Jazz Operations
Oak Park, MI 48237
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