April 30 to May 6 36th Anniversary!
Tokyo is home to more jazz big bands than there are stages big enough to hold them. One club that is big enough is Someday in Shinjuku. Every year, for a week, just after the hanami season is over, Someday showcases the best big bands in the country. The sound is huge, the club is packed, and the music high-energy. This year marks the 36th anniversary of the annual event!
The energy runs right through the crowd since the bands feature only the best players in Tokyo–and they are always primed to play. Band leaders write new charts, the musicians are ready to swing, and most of the audience not only loves big bands, but most likely belong to their own big band. The evening lets everyone jump into the intensity of a sixteen-piece (or more) band, and have a great hard-swinging time. With all the energy poured into these premier bands, it’s good to go more than once. Very highly recommended!
April 30 CUG Jazz Orchestra
CUG features straight-ahead arrangements and excellent soloing. They’ve been together since 1989 and have nine CDs.
May 1 Ryuichi Takase Big Band
One of the most tasteful trumpeters in Tokyo, Takase knows how to assemble a big band and how to keep things swinging. The evening will feature Count Basie’s music.
May 2 Haruki Satoh’s Horn’s Soul Big Band
Satoh’s trombone playing has graced many big bands and small groups, too, but he finally started his own big band last year. Having worked with everyone in Tokyo, he has his pick of musicians for his soulful and trad-minded approach.
May 3 Masahiro Kobayashi One Night Orchestra
Straight-ahead jazz that really digs into unique arrangements and new ways of thinking about old-style big band. Be ready to swing hard.
May 4 New Herd Jazz Orchestra
Perhaps the most traditional of all the bands, New Herd has been running for over 50 years and performing all over the world. Their first recording was in 1969, under the leadership of Toshiyuki Miyama. New leaders and musicians have joined the orchestra, and they continue to win prizes as they spread the gospel of big band.
May 5 Someday Jazz Big Band
Formerly called Tokyo Leaders Jazz Big Band, this band is organized with the help of Mori-san, the owner of Someday. Since he runs the big band festival every year, not to mention running his club all year round, he chooses the cream of the crop for the band. Run in a rather democratic way, the band always serves up excellent takes with fresh arrangement and killer solos. They will feature the music of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis.
May 6 Banda Caliente Grande
Run by pianist Katsunori Fukay, this Latin big band is wild, fun and intense. Be careful where you sit as dancers will often crowd the aisles once the clave rhythms kick in. Fukay arranges most of the tunes with an ear for mixing the best of jazz and Latin music. This is a wonderful, hardcore Latin big band.
More about Big Bands in Tokyo