A personal memory of the Blue Note

March 12th, 2014

BlueNoteJazzClubAs I hope you know by now, Yoko will be at the Blue Note in New York City on March 23 for two brunch shows. Get your tickets here.

I’ve been at the Blue Note many times over the years because of my job, but probably the most memorable visit I ever made to this storied jazz club took place 21 years ago, when I was just 19.

From 1991-92, I lived in Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan. I was a Rotary exchange student. One year after I came back to the United States, a group of students from my town in Japan came to New York City for a visit, along with two adult chaperones, one of whom had been my friend when I lived in Japan. I was living in upstate New York at the time, so I hopped on a train and made the six hour trip down to the city to serve as their guide and interpreter.

This was hilarious on many levels. I’d been to NYC once in my life and knew next to nothing about the city. The students and their chaperones probably new more from their guide books than I knew from my brief personal experience. Plus, both the chaperones spoke English fairly well and really had no need of a translator. To be honest, I think they were just being nice and wanted to see me again.

The second night we were together, after all the students were settled in their rooms, the two chaperones (my friend Miki and a man whose name I can no longer remember), knocked on my door and said “Let’s go to the Blue Note.” They knew I was into jazz and they both wanted to see this famous club. So we hopped in a cab and headed to the West Village.

It turned out to be a special night. The Heath Brothers Reunion Band was playing, and the place was packed. My hosts bought us all tickets and we got great seats. The Heaths were in fine form. Really cooking on a bunch of post-bop tunes and standards. It was my first time in an American jazz club, although I’d been to some in Japan. I was so awestruck by the entire experience, and I can remember that feeling like it was yesterday.

Have you had your first Blue Note experience yet? If not, why not have it with Yoko Miwa’s music as the main event? And if you’ve already been there, it’s always a great time to go back again.

– Jason Crane

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Photo source

A new voice on the blog

March 5th, 2014

crane Hello to all of Yoko’s fans. I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Jason Crane, and starting today I’m taking over for Tegan as the writer of this blog. You’ll also find me on Facebook and Twitter updating Yoko’s pages. Tegan, our former blogger, is moving on to focus on graduate school. She can be reached at tegankehoe.com, and she remains a fan of the Yoko Miwa Trio.

A little about me: I host a popular jazz interview show called The Jazz Session, featuring in-depth interviews with jazz musicians from around the world. I’m also a poet and a freelance writer.

Like Yoko, I speak Japanese, though not as well as she does. I lived in Japan twice, first in northern Japan (Miyagi Prefecture), then in Yokohama. I saw lots of great jazz in both places, and interacted with many passionate jazz fans.

After years of living in New York City, I now live in the slightly less cosmopolitan town of State College, PA, home of Penn State. But I travel to New York often to conduct interviews and hear live music.

Speaking of which, I hope to see many of you in New York on March 23 when Yoko plays the 11:30 and 1:30 sets at the famed Blue Note jazz club. Get your tickets now!

I look forward to interacting with all of you and helping to get the word out about Yoko’s music.

Announcing the Regattabar show, April 25!

February 27th, 2014
Radio personality Lou Brutus has said “Music always sounds better on Friday.” You’ll get a chance to test that out on April 25, as the Yoko Miwa Trio’s annual show at Regattabar will be on that Friday this year. Check out this post if you haven’t been to Regattabar in Cambridge, MA before, then get your tickets online. They are only $20, which is a steal for a weekend night performance at such an important venue. Here’s a video of one of the Trio’s past performances there.

Announcing two concerts at Blue Note NYC

February 20th, 2014
New Yorkers… and people who go into the city for the right occasion! The Yoko Miwa Trio will be playing two brunch performances at Blue Note on Sunday, March 23. Blue Note, in Greenwich Village a block from Washington Square Park, is a modern jazz icon. For over thirty years, this intimate venue has been a center of innovation and sound showcasing jazz stars and the best of up-and-coming musicians.

Your ticket gets you entrance, brunch, and a drink. For the 11:30 show, doors open at 10:30. and for the 1:30 show, doors open at 12:45. We recommend getting there early, because seating is Manhattan style — lots of people, locals and tourists alike.

Valentine’s Weekend at Les Zygomates

February 13th, 2014
 Rien dit l’amour comme la musique… ni comme la cuisine française!*
This weekend, celebrate Valentine’s Day at Les Zygomates. They are offering a three-course prix fixe menu, and of course, the French invented the prix fixe. It looks so tasty, you might want to go both nights while this special menu is available! If you haven’t been to Les Zyg, this is a perfect time to check them out, as the Yoko Miwa Trio will be playing starting 8:00 pm both Friday and Saturday nights. You can read up on this classy venue in older blog posts. Reservations are always recommended, but this weekend they are essential.
bon appétit!
*Nothing says love like music… or like French food!”

Another Take on the “Wheel of Life”

February 6th, 2014
You are probably familiar with Yoko’s composition “Wheel of Life,” which appears on the album Live at Scullers Jazz Club — if not, do check it out! 

While the composition is original, the concept of life as an ever-turning wheel has appeared in many places, from Buddhist religion to modern mind-mapping exercises. The poem below, printed in 1881 (Arthur’s Home Magazine, Philadelphia), shows a completely different take than Yoko’s.

The author used the pen name “Faustine,” but is not clear who that is. The Scot author Eliza Margaret von Booth named a novel “Faustine” the following year, but von Booth herself was not known to write poetry, and she used the pen name “Rita.” “Faustine” contributed a number of poems to the magazine.


The Wheel of Life

We stand at the wheel of life and spin
And we draw the life threads to and fro
And the dark and the light go blending in
And the daylights come and the daylights go.And our feet grow tired of the weary tread
And our hands grow tired with the endless toil
But each human soul must spin its thread
And wind and colour it coil by coil

We stand at the loom of life and weave
The garb that our souls must ever wear
And look at the faded web and grieve
At the broken ends and the seam of care

For we cannot see as the days go by
And the wheel whirls on in its dull routine
That we let the fibres run all awry
And that in the web they will all be seen

But all must stand at the wheel and spin
And whether the woof be good or ill
The robe that we meet our maker in
Is woven here at the weaver’s will

To the spirit guiding its work with care
A wiser than he will the web unroll
And under the shuttle of patient prayer
Will the garment shine in a perfect whole.


Time for Another Throwback Thursday!

January 30th, 2014
We’ll start off our throwback with someone who was doing their own throwback, in that they had reviewed Yoko Miwa before. Scroll down to the middle of the page or use the search function in your browser, because the site is full of reviews.Here’s an older review that is lush with praise, even if the metaphors get complicatedly creative.

Musicians frequently get a lot more press soon after an album has come out, which is probably why we are still finding complementary things people said about Yoko or the whole Trio in 2011, when “Live at Scullers Jazz Club” was first released. This one cuts right to the point — the CD is described in a list titled “Buy These Albums.”

Finally, here’s an audio track, available to stream online, of an interview Yoko did a few years ago for ABradio on BlogTalk Radio.

New Representation!

January 23rd, 2014
Facebook fans and Twitter followers heard right away, but in case you missed it — Yoko Miwa is the newest artist being represented by Dog and Pony Industries!

Dog and Pony represents a catered buffet of delicious sounds, from rock to jazz, from avant-garde to television and film scores. Their jazz offerings include drummer Antonio Sanchez, whose achievements include a Grammy-winning album with the Pat Metheny Trio;  pianist Joey Calderazzo, known for his work in the Michael Brecker Quintet and the Branford Marsalis Quartet; musical polymath Jon Cowherd, who is the pianist for the beloved  group Brian Blade Fellowship; OWL Trio, made up of bassist Orlando le Fleming, saxophonist Will Venson, and guitarist Lage Lund; singer Thana Alexa whose influences are jazz, rock, and pop but whose use of voice as instrument secures her home in jazz; and Vana Gierig, a pianist whose work includes a collaboration that became one of the few instrumental pieces to top the Billboard charts.

APAP Recap

January 16th, 2014

The trio had a great time this past weekend at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference in NYC! It was a gathering of great jazz musicians of every generation and the record labels, artist managers, booking agencies, and festival promoters who run this business. Yoko played solo piano at the opening party and with the Trio at three showcases. Everyone was so welcoming and genuinely kind.

Yoko at APAP 2014, Cathy Katona, CKatona Photography

Yoko at APAP 2014, Cathy Katona, CKatona Photography

Allan Harris, great jazz singer and his wife/manager Pat Harris hosted the APAP opening party at their Harlem brownstone. Yoko was one of the musicians invited to play, and she was in great company.  Cyrus Chestnut played solo piano at the party, and with his trio at the showcases. Cynthia Scott, a great singer who is a former Raelette (backup singer for Ray Charles) sang at the party. Pianist Marc Cary, who was also the late Abbey Lincoln’s musical director, played a great version of one of Abbey’s iconic songs, “Throw it Away.” Bassist Charnett Moffett played, and then we got to hang out with him while he told stories about playing with Mulgrew Miller in his band, Tony Williams in his band, and McCoy Tyner and his band. We talked about how Mulgrew and Tony left us so early, but he stressed how it was the quality of time they spent on this earth that matters, not the length.
The party alone would have been worth the trip to New York, but then there was the rest of the conference! We saw Francisco Mela, an old friend from Berklee and current drummer for Joe Lovano, and enjoyed just hanging out at the showcases. Don Braden, the tenor sax great, played in a showcase right after ours. Jon Weber, pianist played in several showcases, and he remembered Yoko from sharing the stage in Lincoln Center. Jon recently took over as the new host of “Piano Jazz” on NPR, following in the footsteps of the late, great Marian McPartland. Many artists were there from the Motema label, which is becoming one of the more influential labels in jazz. Motema hosted a jam session after the final showcase on Sunday night. The jam went until 2AM, with too many world class musicians sitting in to mention…Motema provided free mojitos!

We shared the stage and hung out with too many music legends to mention in one post; a few not mentioned above were like Monty Alexander, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Don Braden. Hope to see and work with you all again soon! Yoko reflects, “I am so grateful to Fred Taylor for introducing my trio in the showcases, not to mention connecting me with important industry people. Most of all, thanks to Scott and Will. We should be coming back soon to NYC so stay tuned….”

New York, New York

January 9th, 2014

This weekend will be a very special one – it’s the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York City, Friday the 10th through Tuesday the 14th. This is the 57th annual global performing arts conference and marketplace, a chance for performing artists and others in the industry to connect and refuel, and they are expecting three to four thousand attendees.  Like so many of the best conferences, the goal is professional development, but the outcome is that and a bit of a retreat, sharing in the joy of music.

The Yoko Miwa Trio will be playing three showcases during the conference, all at the conference location, the New York Hilton Midtown.  While APAP musicians will be playing showcases all over Manhattan during the event, the showcases that are right at the hotel are at the heart of the action. Showcases are short concerts – usually one set – that hope to introduce many more people to Yoko Miwa’s sound.

In addition, Yoko has been asked to play the exclusive opening night jazz party and showcase in Harlem. The party guests will be treated to the talents of fifteen elite jazz musicians, including pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Charnett Moffett, vocalist Alan Harris, and more. After this wonderful whirlwind of shows, Yoko will be back in Boston on Tuesday to play at Les Zygomates.

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