[JPL] Tokyo Jazz Festival

Dr. Jazz 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 
said.

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 
setting.

"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 
smaller."

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
Dr. Jazz Operations
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http://www.drjazz.com
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