Looking forward, and back, to some fantastic jazz events in Tokyo with Blue Note.

Blue Note Tokyo comes up with another titillating night of jazz when Incognito DJs Bluey (Jean Paul Maunick) and Francis (Hylton) fill the special music nocturne at Café 104.5 in Tokyo on June 15.

Bluey has carried the torch of Incognito’s success since the band’s formation in 1973. He is one of Britain’s and the world’s most celebrated record producers and bandleaders, and has collaborated with legendary greats such as George Benson, Max Priest, Terry Callier, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, just to name a few. Joining bassist Francis, the duo will surely engage the crowd with a momentous night of acid jazz, jazz funk, soul jazz and pop delights (see below for more details).

The event arrives after a lingering recollection of the most talked about world jazz event this year, the International Jazz Day that took a global spin across more than 190 countries on April 30th.

Marking just its second anniversary this year, the International Jazz Day, organized by UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, was staged primarily in Istanbul with the cooperation of the Republic of Turkey and Istanbul Jazz Festival as hosts.

Viewed live by millions of music enthusiasts around the world, this unforgettable day saw spectacular artists such as Herbie Hancock (the International Jazz Day Ambassador), George Duke, Ramsey Lewis, Robert Glasper, John Beasley, Al Jarreau, Marcus Miller, Ben Williams, Lee Ritenour, Terence Blanchard, Eddie Palmieri, Dianne Reeves, John McLaughlin, Dale Barlow, Igor Butman, Branford Marsalis, Jean-Luc Ponty, James Genus, Terri Lyne Carrington, Wayne Shorter, Joss Stone, Bilal Karaman, Joe Louis Walker, and an entire parade of jazz’s cream of the crop, including special guests Martin Luther King III and comedian Cem Yılmaz.

In Japan, this phenomenal event ran for three days (link), April 28th-30th at the WATERRAS complex in Kanda, Tokyo, under the name, JAZZ AUDITORIA 2013, and was organized by Blue Note Japan.

Gracing the nights were, amongst others, Blue Note Tokyo All-Star Jazz Orchestra, directed by Eric Miyashiro with top Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone, as well as Toshiko Akiyoshi and Jazz Orchestra, Yosuke Onuma, Battle Jazz Big Band, Naoko Terai Quartet, the phenomenal Sadao Watanabe Quintet, Fried Pride, 45trio featuring Hiro-a-key, Ai Kuwabara trio project, mononkul, the Meiji University Big Sounds Society Orchestra and Seeds+.

Former jazz magazine editor-in chief and freelance writer Kazunori Harada reports on the International Jazz Day’s Tokyo highlights: “You might think the music showcases a traditional acoustic sound, but there was a magical blend of funk and rock from the Big Band, Yosuke Onuma, to Fried Pride, and others. It was incredible to witness fans rise up to the Battle Jazz Big Band’s up-tempo Toshiko Akiyoshi Orchestra featuring Lou Tabackin … Under the evening sky, the atmosphere faded a little bit with the high notes and ultra-high-pitched tone of Eric Miyashiro’s trumpet and the dynamic piano play of Makoto Ozone.”

Nonetheless, the exceptional performances of Sadao Watanabe and Toshiko Akiyoshi proved to be the event’s height of glory. Harada further relates: “Watching both young and old people swaying to the music with a smile was an exhilarating experience. Waterras never appeared so alive and energetic in all these years. Japan’s jazz population has certainly increased immensely thanks to this spectacular event.”

Incognito DJs event

When: Saturday June 15, 19:00-21:30

Where: Cafe 104.5, Waterras Tower 2F, Kanda Awajicho 2-101, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.

How Much: Free.

Image: Incognito DJs (Café 104.5 and Blue Note Tokyo)

For more information about events like these, see: www.bluenote.co.jp

With thanks to Kazunori Harada.