Posts filed under ‘Japanese’

Round Out Your Week with a Little World Fusion: See What Transpires When Japanese Folk Music Meets Jazz with the Tomoko Omura Quartet: April 26th, Thursday @ 8:30 p.m.

Jazz violinist Tomoko Omura is an artist with a mission. “I want to push the barriers of jazz violin” she urges, recognizing a pronounced absence of string players when it comes to the achievement of true stardom in the world of jazz. Still a young developing artist in the early stages of her career, already she has been haled by the likes of “The Strad” magazine as a creative genius, moving beyond the stylistic advancements made by even the great Stepahnie Grapelli himself. Her latest artistic venture, entitled Roots, involves the fusion of Japanese traditional music and jazz, the music from which will be featured at her Thursday night performance at Ryles with the Tomoko Omura Quartet. As with her earlier project, the “Visions”  cd (2008), Omura shares her own highly innovative, leading-edge original works or arrangements, showcasing her ulta-modern interpretative skills and compositional techniques. However, even though she is truly an experimental jazz artist in her own right, one can still notice the influences of her earlier classical music training which remain ever-present throughout all of her compositions, as cleverly constructed improvisations are well balanced against solidly structured harmonies.  With respect to Omura’s playing style, she is one of a tiniest minority of violinists attempting to solidly establish the presence of standard jazz idioms within her performances not normally associated with a string instrument. So, why not come and see what this exciting young jazz musician and her quartet have to bring to the genre, this Thursday night at Ryles.



Tomoko Omura developed an affinity for jazz early on during her training as a classical violinist. As a young music student attending Yokohama National University, she was one of a very few studying the instrument to take a serious interest in this particular genre. Eager to develop a career in jazz, she came to the United States to study at the Berklee College of Music where she graduated sums cum laude. During her tenure there, she became the very first string major ever to receive the coveted Roy Hanes award for jazz performance. Currently, she is enjoying a well accomplished professional career as a jazz composer and performer, having been featured in both The Strad and Strings magazines. In addition to her numerous recording credits, she is in constant demand as a stage performer, either as a soloist, leading her own small ensembles or as part of various other jazz groups, appearing regularly at top clubs and other major venues and events around New England and in New York City, as well. She also continues to perform in her native Japan where she was a part of J-Pop superstar, Mai Kuraki’s hit song entitled “Be With U”.







Event Details:

When: April 26th, Thursday @ 8:30 p.m.

Where: Ryles Jazz Club  (Mainstage)

Admission: $10.00 (Purchase Online)

               Restaurant Menu

More Info: 617-876-9330                       


April 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm Leave a comment

Join One Very Special Group of Dedicated and Passionate World Musicians in Their Celebration of Earth Day: Help Some of the Best Flutists on the Planet to Save It

The Playing for the Planet series is now in its 6th installment and still going strong!!! 
As you are probably already well aware, Earth Day is all about honoring our precious environment. In this particular concert setting it is more specifically about reversing the global warming trend and the ghastly havoc it is wreaking upon our environment at this very moment. Yikes!!! This event is part of a very special performance series  that has been successfully joining great world music with a great world cause for over two years now.  At this point, I am going to let the creator of this highly important series describe this musical Earth Day celebration to you  in his own words, as he has already so beautifully done so: “Playing For The Planet: World Flutes Against Climate Change” was conceived as a way for these creative musicians to contribute to the urgent struggle against global warming. Because the climate problem recognizes no national boundaries, the artists represent musical styles from three different parts of the globe. Steve Gorn, Elizabeth Reian Bennett, John Tyson, and Miyuki Tsurutaini and their accompanists may present different melodic and rhythmic concepts, but they share key musical values: listening, honesty, creativity, and respect. And, of course, all three artists and their accompanists are committed to raising awareness of the potentially devastating effects of global warming. Their choice of beneficiary,, is focused on building global consensus on reduction of atmospheric CO2 levels — action which climatologists agree is necessary to avoid catastrophic outcomes. It’ll be an incredible evening of  powerful music- from some of the finest musicians in New England and the world.”–Warren Senders. 
Playing for the Planet” will be:
 Steve Gorn (with Samir Chatterjee, tabla) This bansuri virtuoso has literally created a genre all his own by effectively combining a classical Indian sound with that of other Western and world music genres in such a way that it speaks with a familiar universal appeal to audiences the world over. He has studied with the greatest music masters of India and gone on to establish himself as a performer and recording artist of international renown. He has collaborated with the music world’s biggest and brightest stars including Paul Simon, Anglique Kidjo, Krishna Das, Paul Winter, and Deepak Chopra, to name a few. He has  also participated in the recording of Grammy nominated or winning recordings and has appeared on the soundtrack of an Oscar-winning documentary film as well. (Visit his website)          

 Renaissonics – This energetic and upbeat group of Renaissance music specialists are considered to be among the “best of the best” of early music ensembles. They have done much to popularize the music of this period by infusing it with a renewed sense of energy and excitement, largely through their highly improvisational performance style. Still, in spite of it all, their Renaissance period repertoire is presented in only the most authentic manner, thus remaining true to its ancient roots. Each and every member of the group has earned themselves international merit as a soloist and, as a unit, they have performed overseas in France as well as  with Michael York of Hollywood fame, the Sumaj Chasquis ensemble of Bolivia,  renown jazz artist Bob Moses, and the well-known Latin band Sol Y Canto. They also contributed to the soundtrack of a Ken Burns documentary for PBS. The Rennaissonics currently serve as resident ensemble for the International Early Dance Institute, as well as the Killington Vermont Shakespeare Festival. (Visit their website

Elizabeth Reian Bennett – As the truest of shakuhachi virtuosos, this Tufts University music professor has earned the most prestigious title of Grand Master of her instrument, an honor she earned as the result of years of extensive training in the art of Japanese traditional music. Not only is she one of a very few Westerners to ever have received such schooling, but she is the first female ever to have attain a professional career as a shakuhachi player. Known throughout the world for her impeccable technique, she was considered to be the very best in all of Japan for over 30 years. Although Reian Bennett is no doubt considered a leading authority on traditional playing styles, as is evident in her exquisite renditions of Japanese monk songs and classical chamber music, she also experiments with her own  improvisations and various modern world fusion genres.            


In October of 2009, I had the fortune of attending an earlier concert, the first, also put on by Mr. Senders for the same wonderful cause, this time in recognition of “International Climate Change Awareness Day.” As an ardent lover of world music, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening. Here is a summary of some of the highlights of that event, complete with photos. As I have said so many times before, it is truly a wonderful thing when world music can be employed as a catalyst in support of global well-being in any form. Kudos to Mr. Senders for giving us, the audience, yet another opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful project, complete with such exquisite music!

Event Details:

All proceeds of this event go to benefit the mission of

When: Saturday, May 19th @ 7:00 p.m. 

Where: Emmanuel Baptist Church (Boston)

Tickets: $20.00 (General Admission) (Online purchase) / $15.00 (Seniors and Students) (Online purchase)

Advance purchase options for tickets are available until 3:00 p.m. on the day of the concert   

More Info: 781-396-0734 OR OR Facebook

(Area Restaurants)

April 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment

Enjoy A Special Evening of World Music and Dance at the “Playing for the Planet” Benefit Concert: 6 Great Acts in One Show! – Saturday, October 24th @ 6:30 p.m.

play5“Benefit concert for what?” you might ask …to raise global awareness of the serious implications of the current climate crisis (most namely global warming) and encourage world-wide action to save our planet. (See College professor, ethnomusicologist, and world musician Warren Senders (see blog) came up with the wonderful idea to produce a world music and dance show in order to aid this all important cause. As an avid fan of world music, it always gives me great pleasure to see my passion employed as a platform to encourage global unity and well-being! 


Concert-goers will be treated to music and dance from four regions of the world including, Europe, Asia, Africa,  and the Middle East. For a brief description of the concert program, as well as short bios on the performers- just click here. If you are interested in brief sound or video clips from the artists, then click on the links below. The “additional info” is provided compliments of Mr. Senders, himself, and will give you a more complete picture of  each artist.   

Libana (additional info)

Aparna Sindhoor Dance Theater

Ayakano Cathleen Read (video of Japanese koto player)/Elizabeth Reian Bennett (additional info)

Warren Senders and the Raga Ensemble

Beth Bahia Cohen (performing with ensemble ZIYIA)

Agbekor Drum and Dance Society (additonal info)








Concert Details:

When: October 24th (International Day of Climate Action) – Saturday @ 6:30 p.m.

          (Related events happening all day in the Boston Area)

Where: First Congregational Church of Cambridge (11 Garden Street)

Tickets: $20.00 ($15.00 – Seniors/Students)

            Available for purchase online ($20.00 / $15.00)

More Info: 781-396-0734 

(Neighborhood Restaurants)






September 30, 2009 at 3:29 pm 1 comment

Experience the Art of Japanese Taiko Drumming with Odaiko New England (ONE)

one 5Odaiko New England (ONE) is not only one of the east coast’s best taiko drumming ensembles, but a well-established cultural organization as well. They are proudly celebrating their 15th anniversary this year as they remain steadfast in their mission to achieve a bond between American and Japanese cultures based upon the development of an appreciation of their music among audiences in the US.

The rhythms of taiko drumming are founded upon those of nature and the music itself  is considered to be a  very basic element of Japanese culture. It has been incorporated into almost all aspects of daily life in Japan. ONE’s performances are a combination of energetic rhythm patterns and accompanying body movements, which are anone 6 essential element of taiko drumming. They bring their own somewhat Americanized version of this ancient Japanese genre to their US audiences and, as a result, have attained quite a following. Visit their web site for performance listings, entertaining video clips, and the ensemble members’ blog.

As an organization, Odaiko New England regularly offers ome 2weekly classes for beginning and more advanced adults and a series for young people. Go ahead and sneak a peek at a class in action. In addition, they conduct workshops and give lecture/demonstrations specially designed for audiences  from children to adult.  You can even hire them for your organization’s special event or to collaborate on a performance project. For more on Odaiko New England and all that they have to offer, visit their web site for contact info. or sign up for their newsletter. You can also purchase mementos at the online store or make a donation through the purchase of a performance DVD and support the organization’s cultural cause while you enjoy the entertainment.



one 4             

August 13, 2009 at 12:27 am Leave a comment

Japanese Bamboo Flute Master Phil Nyokai James in Concert at the Boston Public Library – (May 14th – Thursday at 2:00 p.m.)

Shaku 12Phil Nyokai James has been performing on the Japanese shakuhachi  (bamboo) flute for over 25 years and holds the title of Shihan (master) on this instrument from the Ki Sui An school, where he also attained his professional Japanese name. As a teacher and composer as well as performer, he is extremely dedicated to his instrument  and has been featured on the public radio program Weekend America (scroll down to middle of linked page). He has also recorded his own cds, the latest, just released last year, is entitled Dreaming of Waking Up.

The shakuhachi flute, known for its peaceful sound, lends itself naturally to the art of meditation and is commonly played by Buddhist monks. Mr. Nyokai James, himself,  is well versed in the area of music and its role in the Buddhist religion, and has authored a pamphlet entitled Listening as part of a publisher’s series on the subject of “Buddhist Musicianship”. In an excerpt he writes: “Buddhist Musicianship is a radical return to the basics of working with sound, emphasizing concentration, mindfulness, personal discipline, attentive listening, breathing, community, and compassion.”

This multi-talented musician began his career as a composer of classical music. He has performed on and composed for piano, as well as other keyboard and electronic instruments. You can enjoy a number of his compositions on MySpace and his electronic music webpage. He has also participated in cooperative projects with dancers and other performing artists and enjoyed success in the areas of video and experimental film production as well. As the owner of his own recording label “Sparkling Beatnik  Records”, he has become a leader in the promotion of traditional Japanese and contemporary improvisational music.  




Concert details:

Phil 1Where: Boston Public Library @ Copley Square

Venue: Rabb Lecture Hall (Ground floor of the Johnson Building)

When: Thursday, May 14th @ 2:00 p.m.              

Admission: Free to all

For additional info. contact: 617 – 536 – 5400 / x2339

May 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

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