Tag Archives: jazz

Arabesk ~ Gypsy, Soul, Jazz Music @ Blue Note Kyoto; May 7th 2015

Put some Gypsy in your Soul with Arabesk in Blue Note Kyoto!

Arabesk play a brand of music that is often described as Gypsy Soul. For those looking to embark on a journey of authentic m
usical exploration, not contained by any cultural boundary, they are a band guaranteed to put some real “gypsy” in your “soul”.


Many thanks to George Bourdaniotis for sending in the following information on Arabesk’s upcoming show at Blue Note Kyoto.

Date: 7th May
Open: 19:00
Start: 20:00 & 21:30
Charge: ¥1,500
Location: Blue Note, Kyoto is located on the south side of a little street between Kawaramachi and Kiyamachi three streets south of Sanjo. Here is a MAP.
Address: 〒604-8021 京都府 京都市中京区 北車屋町北車屋町264,

Originally formed in 2003 Arabesk are a Sydney based quartet who have adopted many of the disparate international rhythms and melodies of Australia’s multicultural society and molded them into their own unique style. Theirs is a journey of constant discovery that has taken them from the tradition-steeped back streets of Eastern Europe, to the bustling bazaars of Turkey. Added to this potent worldly brew are a list of influences that include luminaries such as guitarist Django Reinhardt, jazz drummer Elvin Jones, tango master Astor Piazzola, and bassist Stanley Clarke.

Here’s a clip of the band in action at the Takatsuki Jazz Festival in 2011.

Find out more about Arabesk’s music on their website here: http://www.arabesk.com.au/
Follow their 2015 Tour of Japan on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ArabeskJapanTour2015

Established in 1953, Blue Note Kyoto is an intimate venue with a rich history of hosting big names over the years.

Read my previous article on Blue Note here: http://www.deepkyoto.com/blue-note/
Visit Blue Note’s website here: http://kyoto-bluenote.jp/

Jazz Band Fujiya Mountain @ 和音堂

Walking up the Kamo river one day, we saw a lively jazz band playing under the Sanjo bridge that were so good we decided cross over and have a look.
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They were young, fun and funky, so we picked up a flyer for their next gig, which happened to be on the following day. The location 和音堂 (WA・ON・DO) was convenient and the price was only 1000 (+ another 500 for a drink) and let’s face it, you can’t see many jazz bands at that price. So we decided to go.
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和音堂 is pretty cramped inside so it was hard to get a full band picture, but Mewby took the panorama shot above with her i-phone. If it looks a little weird that’s because they were jigging about to the music. It was good music! Here try some!

They also had a support band, Cocopelie, playing Irish music. I didn’t recognize them at first but I have seen some of these musicians playing at Irish pub Gnome in the past…

For one song Tomoko Sato from Cocopelie and Fujiya Mountain played together:

A great night! This band are a lot of fun and jazz at that price is such great value. We felt like we had made a wonderful new musical discovery! Fujiya Mountain play a regular monthly show at 和音堂 and next month they are playing with the support of “jazz-metal-comic-band” Dead Hot Chilli Peppers. We are definitely going to see them.

Here are the details:

IMG_7953 (Medium)Fujiya Mounatin @ 和音堂 Vol. 7
Date & Time: April 29th Open: 7:00pm Show: 7:30pm
Charge: 1000 yen (+ 500 yen per drink)
Guests: Dead Hot Chilli Peppers
Location: 和音堂 is just off Kawaramachi Street on the north side of 竜馬通り (one street south of Sanjo). Here is a map.

I will leave you with the band’s joyful rendition of “Stand By Me”.

See also Fujiya Mountain’s schedule on their website.
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Shakuhachi & Flamenco Live with Yugao – This Weekend!

Our old friend the shakuhachi player, Koichi Yoshida, and his band Yugao have an autumn show at Zac Baran this weekend and the wonderful flamenco dancer Carmen Alvarez is back from Spain to join the performance! You can see some clips of Carmen in action with Yugao from a performance last year here. A little birdy tells me that Koichi is planning to move to France soon… so this might well be our last chance to see this unique blending of musical cultures here in Kyoto for quite some time.

Blending jazz, classical, traditional Japanese and Indian music, Kyoto’s most popular fusion ensemble forms something a little greater than the sum of its parts. Three years of tinkering with structures and honing sonorities have only made this new and arresting sound even harder to classify — and more difficult to forget. Don’t miss your chance to hear YUGAO, live at ZAC BARAN!

From the top left clockwise: Yoshida Koichi (shakuhachi), Ikeda Ippei (piano), William Prunkl (cello) and Fujisawa Bayan (tabla).

8th (Saturday) Open: 18:30 / Start: 19:30
9th (Sun) Open: 17:00 / Start: 18:00
Advance tickets: 2000 yen / On the door: 2500 yen
Booking: http://yugao-music.com/ticket/ticket.html

Location: Zac Baran is a legendary cafe/bar/music spot on the north side of Marutamachi a short walk east of Higashioji Dori. Here is a map.

To learn more about Yugao and their music please visit their website. You can also view several videos of their performances there.

Links to the performers’ websites:
Yoshida Koichi
Ikeda Ippei
Fujisawa Bayan
Carmen Alvarez

Bobby Ricketts in Kyoto

Jazz fans rejoice! Denmark-based American saxophonist Bobby Ricketts will be playing two shows in Kyoto next month, and one of them is for free!

9/03 (Sat)

Place: On Oike Dori outside the Kyoto Hotel Okura (Map)

Time: Two sets from 16.45-17.30 and 18.00-18.45

This show is FREE

Performers: Bobby Ricketts & local singer Alicia Saldenha.

9/06 (Tue)

Place: Live Spot Rag (Map)

Open: 18:00, Start: 19:00

Advance: 2,500 yen, Door: 3,000 yen

Student Price: Advance: 1,500 yen, Door: 2,000 yen

Performers: Bobby Ricketts & local singer Alicia Saldenha.

Click here to check out Bobby Ricketts’ music.

Many thanks to George Bourdaniotis for sending me the information on these shows.

Yugao & Carmen Alvarez

“Flamenco is a gypsy/Andalusian art with its own language, which is spreading throughout the whole world, from Andalusia to Japan, and reaching the depths of all hearts without discrimination.”
Carmen Alvarez

Another fantastic show from Yugao at Parker House Roll last night, and it was made all the more special when their special surprise guest, Carmen Alvarez, joined them on stage! Not content with their current blend of jazz, classical, traditional Japanese music and Indian percussion – they have added flamenco to the mix! Here are three videos from their performance.

This tune, “Takeda’s lullaby” (竹田の子守唄) is a traditional tune from our own dear city of Kyoto. Koichi opened our “Voices for Umekoji” event with this same tune a couple of weeks ago.

Carmen Alvarez joined Koichi on stage for “Tribute to Kumano Kodo” (熊野古道に捧ぐ). I wonder if anyone has danced flamenco to this tune before? It’s an unusual combination – but it works!

Finally, here is Carmen again with the full band and their rendition of Chick Corea’s “Spain”. I  saw them play this last summer and at that time Carmen happened to be in the audience and supplied some hand claps and jaleo type shouts. This time she was part of the performance and she was beautiful!

Yugao & Carmen Alvarez are playing again tonight (Sunday February 6th) at Zac Baran. Check here for details.

From the top left clockwise: Yoshida Koichi (shakuhachi), Ikeda Ippei (piano), William Prunkl (cello) and Fujisawa Bayan (tabla).

Shakuhachi player Yoshida Koichi will also be joining folk band Udonya Mentei’s Super Band (another “Voices for Umekoji” participant) for a show at legendary live house Jittoku on Sunday February 13th. Tickets are only 1000 yen and the show starts at seven. Here is a map.

Links to the performers’ websites:

Yoshida Koichi
Ikeda Ippei
Fujisawa Bayan
Carmen Alvarez

Allison Adams Tucker @ Blue Note

My musical repertoire is a culmination of my experiences living in and traveling to various countries, my background in lingusitics, and my love for world cultures – wrapped in a ribbon of jazz. I perform jazz-influenced music of Brazil, Italy, France, Latin America (Cuba, Argentina, Mexico), Japan, and of course the US – all with a contemporary twist of swing, Latin rhythms, funk, gypsy jazz, and blues.
Allison Adams Tucker

20090827173409 Jazz vocalist Allison Adams Tucker wrote to tell me that she will be performing in Kansai next month:

I was invited to be a showcase artist at the 1st Annual Kansai Music Conference in Osaka (Sept 19-20), and have booked a Japan Tour around this. I’ll be performing in Kyoto on Sept 14th at Blue Note (in my favorite area of town near Kiyamachi), Osaka (Azul 9/15  & Jazz On Top 9/20 with the Phillip Strange Trio), and Tokyo (Body & Soul 9/22, joining Tommy Campbell’s “Vocal Session Band” with Toku).

She was also kind enough to send me a copy of her debut CD “Come With Me” which I’ve been listening to today whilst pottering about the house. Continue reading

Shakuhachi Jazz

koichiOur old friend Yoshida Koichi has written to tell me he has a show coming up next week in Gion. Along with Koichi’s shakuhachi (Japanese flute) there will be a pianist and bass player performing a set of jazz classics such as Take Five, Summertime and In a Sentimental Mood. There will also be a joint performance with a biwa (Japanese lute) player.  The performance is next Wednesday (July 22nd) from 20:00 ~ 22:00. The charge is 2000 yen plus another 1000 yen for a drink. The location is the bar “Funny Company” (Tel: 075-561-8671).

If you haven’t seen Koichi play then please take a wee look at these videos of previous collaborations: Shakuhachi & Jazz Piano, Shakuhachi & SitarShakuhchi & Sanshin, Japanese Folk & Shakuhachi.

Here is a most convenient map.

Zac Baran

I first met Yoshida Koichi in the music bar Hawkwind. A shakuhachi player, he told me he plays in many styles, not just traditional, but jazz, folk, avant garde, new age, pretty much anything. In Hawkwind we were listening to some hip-hop. “How about this then?” I challenged him with a grin. And do you know, he stood up immediately, he played, and it was wonderful. I was very impressed (not least because he had obviously had a few). Koichi is still but a student of shakuhachi though, so he supports himself by working part-time at the jazz cafe, bar and diner Zac Baran. I decided to go and visit him there in the New Year.

Zac Baran, is listed in 新版 京都音楽空間 (Kyoto Music Spot Guide) as one of the “legendary places” of Kyoto. It first opened in 1977 during Kyoto’s jazz boom along with other great jazz cafes like Yamatoya and Lush Life Zac Baran is not so strict about the jazz as those other locations though.  In the entryway you will find a stash of over 2000 old vinyl records that includes blues and latin music and the current management are clearly not averse to a bit of rock guitar too. When I visited I found myself watching DVDs of The Police, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Nirvana on the big screen. Not what I was expecting! Among the succession of owners Zac Baran has had over the years, one was clearly a fan of the  Freak Brothers as their images are all over the walls.  I asked current owner Nakano Koji what kind of people come here now. “We get musicians, not so many salarymen… students from the nearby university… doctors and nurses from the nearby hospital…”
“And maybe a few patients too!” quipped regular customer Kikuchi Yousuke. He himself is a jazz pianist.  “Why don’t Koichi and I play a little something for you?” he said and so they gave an impromptu performance which you can see at the end of this post.  First here are some pictures to give you a flavour of the place:

The drinks menu here is reasonably priced. A draft beer will cost you ¥600. Spirits and cocktails cost between ¥600 – ¥750. They also have coffee and soft drinks. Food is cheap too and they have a big range of dishes to choose from (on an English menu!): pizza, curry, noodles, stir fries, quiche, etc. Live music events are frequent, and the space can be rented for parties. As for the atmosphere? It’s a dimly lit but friendly place in which to meet interesting and sometimes very talented people. Zac Baran means frank speech or straight talking, and that being its guiding principal, this is a place where you can relax and freely speak your mind.
Zac Baran is on the north side of Marutamachi a short walk east of Higashioji Dori. Here is a most convenient map. Open everyday 18:00 ~ 04:00.
Tel: 075-751-9748
Here’s that video for you:

Next post: The curiously named Sheep’s Public Cafe.

boogaloo cafe & deli

Here’s a pleasant respite from the madding crowds of Teramachi. Escape to the soft lighting and background jazz of the 2nd or 3rd floor cafes and order yourself a healthy lunch. This is also a bakery so pasta, pizza or a nutritious salad can be ordered for lunch with a パン食べ放題 or all-you-can-eat-bread deal. Here are some items off the lunchtime menu:

●pasta lunch (today’s pasta & salad & all-you-can-eat bread selection & one drink): ¥997
●salad lunch (today’s salad & soup & all-you-can-eat bread selection & one drink):¥892
●pizza lunch (today’s salad & soup & all-you-can-eat bread selection & one drink): ¥840

Not sure about the pizza lunch, as we had all-you-can-eat bread with ours… but maybe we weren’t supposed to!

Here’s a link to the Japanese menu. Be aware that the menu for the 3rd floor shop is different. Opening hours are 12:00~23:00 (lunchtime:12:00~15:00) with no holidays! Boogaloo Cafe & Deli is on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the 詩の小路 (shinokoji) building on Teramachi, between Shijo and Nishiki Dori. Here is a most convenient map.

Telephone (2F):075-213-1610 (3F): 075-213-1066

This is a chain so you can also find boogaloo cafes on Shijo and Karasuma. Check out the website for some nice pictures: LINK

Tits Cafe

In all fairness, you can’t very well see a sign like this and not go in, can you really? Don’t worry though, I’m not going to indulge myself in silly jokes about breasts. That’s already been done for me (curses!). I’m including Tits Cafe here, because it’s actually a really nice place; all warm and snug and comforting… Ah. Ok, – let’s focus on the menu, shall we?

Despite being nominally a cafe, Tits’s specialty is tea. They have all kinds of tea (averaging about ¥600 a pot) from the standards (Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Assam, Jasmine, Keemun) to the not so (Jipang and Choco Truffe). Then there are the fruit flavored varieties: Fruits Garden, Muscat, Pear, Pineapple, Lychee, and Mango Indica. For the sweet-toothed there are the vanilla teas: Almond, Maple Honey, Caramel Custard, and Strawberry Cream. And for the health-conscious there are herb teas; Mint, Chamomile, Red Orange, Red Spice… The menu also helpfully recommends a cake best suited to accompany each tea. Spoil yourself to home-made cheesecake, chiffon, chocolate gateaux, honey waffles or pudding parfait.

In this quiet location on Ayanokouji Dori you can also get a full meal: curry, pasta, doria, omlette or steak and they have a range of products such as tea-cosies, coasters and cushions made from kimono fabric. So why the name? I had to ask. The girl behind the counter said it meant “ゆったりしたこと” which can be translated as calm, unhurried or relaxed. “Ah, so it’s a Japanese word then?” I asked. “Yes,” said the girl and by this time I was finding it hard to keep a straight face and the girl was blushing (probably been asked this before) so I left it at that. But then outside my Japanese friend said “That’s not any Japanese word I’ve ever heard of…”, so the mystery continues, though there does appear to be a Japanese jazz band also named “ティッツ” and they do play jazz in the cafe so maybe that has something to do with it…

Tits Cafe is open from 11:30 ~ 20:00. To find Ayanokouji Dori go one street south of Shijo. Tits Cafe sits between Tominokouji Dori and Yanaginobanba. Here is a most helpful map. Tel: 075-344-3441