Category Archives: ARTICLES

Why live music is better, especially jazz

Why live music is better, especially jazz

With all the personal, portable, computerized listening devices available these days, music people are turning into recluses. It’s easy to stay at home with YouTube, iTunes, Amazon or a streaming service, not to mention CDs and stereo equipment, and feel your musical experience is complete. I know because I have all those home musical options… »

Masabumi Kikuchi

Masabumi Kikuchi

Masabumi Kikuchi’s piano playing was unique, intense and spectacularly fun. Sadly, he has died at the age of 75, in New York. Playing in both Japan and the United States for decades, he recorded his own work with many of the top names in jazz, including Elvin Jones, Gil Evans, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, and… »

Whiplash

Whiplash

Of course, there are documentaries, biopics, teaching videos, jazz as background music, but almost no films that get into the inner, demanding dynamics of jazz. Unlike most jazz films, which often end up records of performances or historical fact-listing, “Whiplash” goes right into the pain of jazz. »

Jazz and mindfulness

Jazz and mindfulness

Mindfulness has in many ways always been at the core of jazz. It is possible to listen to jazz as background music or as accompaniment to the activities of life, but jazz, when listened to with even a smidgen of care, creates »

The ideas of jazz

The ideas of jazz

I find jazz to be a metaphor that encompasses a broad section of life’s best experiences. Immanuel Kant said that ethics begins in aesthetics. I could not agree more. It is not that you can judge someone’s character by the type of music they like, but that beauty and character »

Jazz and Zen: Silence

Jazz and Zen: Silence

The overlapping concepts and practices of jazz and Zen have a common starting point. To put it simply, or reduce it to an initiating idea: All action springs from inaction and all sound springs from silence. »

Jazz solos–gift or product?

Jazz solos–gift or product?

Listening to jazz at one of my nearby, favorite haunts, Sometime, in Kichijoji, after a particularly long and satisfying solo, I started to wonder why jazz has so many long solos, and why those solos appeal so strongly to Japanese jazz listeners, who seem to be picked up and carried along on the jam »

Rare Releases

Rare Releases

Want the complete Lester Young Early Recordings? Need a DVD of early Louis Armstrong vocals? What about a vinyl record of Sonny Clark live in Paris? Looking for a re-mastered collection of mid-career Stan Getz? What about a reissue of, well, pretty much the entire Blue Note catalogue? »

A Jazz-Less Week

A Jazz-Less Week

After the earthquake and tsunami on Friday, March 11, from the middle to the north of the main island, Honshu, life in Japan has changed for everyone. Nearly 500,000 people are living in evacuation facilities and the count of the dead and missing has just gone over 20,000. »

The Jazz Soundtrack of Tokyo

The Jazz Soundtrack of Tokyo

Japan’s love for jazz has no stronger evidence than the constant sound of jazz being played all over the country. In elevators, convenience stores, restaurants, lobbies and public spaces of all kinds, jazz is the soundtrack for Japan’s daily life. »

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