Going Deeper

December 5th, 2013

Do you ever get the urge to go deeper, and learn more about music? There are lots of great resources out there, but one of the simplest ways to get started is to log on to the Boston Public Library’s website to access their electronic resources. You’ll need a library card, but anyone who lives or goes to school in Massachusetts can get one online. If you are outside the state, investigate the nearest high-quality library near you.

If you just want to listen, Music Online: Jazz Music Library has the largest collection of jazz streaming available online. It’s mostly public domain works from 1924 to the present and labels that have a special arrangement with the publisher, so no, you won’t find Yoko Miwa or the Trio on there, but with over 10,000 albums, we’re willing to be you will find something to listen to.

Alternatively, from a mobile device you can use Overdrive Music, which lets you check out certain albums and collections electronically (they have audiobooks and ebooks too!). After the lending period is up, they will expire on your device, but if you check them out again, most books will “remember” where you were in your listening.

If you play, Music Online: Classical Scores Library is not just for classical music. It features all kinds of gems in all kinds of genres. For example, here’s a book of simple Christmas music done as jazz duets for clarinet and piano.

For general music reference or for deeper music research, you’ll want your first stop to be Oxford Music Online, which contains Grove Music Online, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The Oxford Companion to Music.

Happy exploring.

Boston’s Jazz Anchor

November 14th, 2013

In a year in review article at the end of 1989, the Boston Globe’s Fernando Gonzalez said that the then brand-new Scullers Jazz Club “looks like it’s here to stay.” Also in 1989, the Globe’s Steve Morse wrote, “Need a retreat to hear some of the best jazz in town? You can’t go wrong with Scullers, a superb new club with a panoramic view of the Charles River and Boston skyline. The atmosphere is warm, the ambiance low-key and the bookings a breath of fresh air. The intimate, 110-capacity club [has] marble tables, deep-cushioned chairs, Honduran mahogany walls and an upscale but not uppity feel… This club’s a welcome addition — and long overdue in the local jazz world. ”


When Scullers was founded, it filled a hole in the local music scene – while Cambridge and Somerville had several lively jazz spots, Boston had not had a major jazz venue since the Starlight Roof in Kenmore Square closed in 1986. Several other important venues, such as Jonathan Swift’s and Charlie’s Tap, had closed earlier in the decade. Boston needed something like Scullers.

Since the now iconic club will be celebrating its twenty-fifth birthday next year, it’s safe to say that Fernando Gonzalez was right when he said Scullers is here to stay. But why wait until a big anniversary to celebrate Scullers? The Yoko Miwa Trio’s annual Scullers show is next week, November 20, at 8 pm, so get your tickets now.

Great News About the Scullers Show

November 7th, 2013

Singer Rebecca Parris is known by some as “The First Lady of Jazz.” That title was first given to pianist Mary Lou Williams, but more famously, Ella Fitzgerald. Parris is more often called “Boston’s First Lady of Jazz, but Marblehead also claims her as their own first lady of jazz. They may have the right — she has been a headliner at the Marblehead Summer Jazz festival for all 29 seasons it has been running.

It’s always a delight to share the stage with a living legend, and the Yoko Miwa Trio has had the pleasure of working with Rebecca Parris on several shows in the past. However, we have never had a guest for our Scullers show, which will make November 20a first. Perhaps Rebecca should be dubbed “The Charles River’s First Lady of Jazz” as well!

… Does this make the Yoko Miwa Trio the cabinet of jazz? The peerage?

In any case, it’s going to be an evening to remember. There are still tickets available for the November 20 show,  but it has been known to sell out in the past, so make sure to get yours!

Happy Halloween from the Yoko Miwa Trio!

October 31st, 2013
Happy Halloween from the Yoko Miwa Trio

If ghosts were real, we imagine that anyone who has performed at a top-quality jazz club would choose to return after death. Here’s a partial list of people who would have haunted Scullers Jazz Club for a few years or more:

  • Singer and songwriter Lou Rawls
  • Singer and pianist Bobby Short
  • Pianist George Shearing
  • Singer and Pianist Shirley Horn
It sounds like it would be quite a party!
Image by donata ramonaite on flickr .

Image by donata ramonaite on flickr .

Until the day when we can hear ghosts jam, come listen to live music instead! (No pun intended… maybe).

Do you have your tickets yet for the Yoko Miwa Trio show on November 20?

Jazz With Friends

October 24th, 2013
In the past two weeks, this blog has covered introducing your young kids and your teens to jazz. What if the people you want to enjoy jazz with — who don’t yet know that they love jazz — are your adult children, your partner, or your friends?
Yoko Miwa signing CDs
  • Take a short class or workshop together. If your friend enjoys expanding their horizons and learning new things, but has been hesitant to go to a concert with you, it may be because they think they won’t understand jazz. A short class at a local community education center will introduce them to some music principles while showing them that there’s no need to be intimidated by jazz!
  • Just like with teens, enjoying a movie with jazz in it can be a great way to increase a friend’s exposure to jazz. Stay tuned for more news on the independent film Midlife, which Yoko Miwa herself composed the score for!
  • Think about their tastes and choose a venue where your friend will be sure to have a good time. Think about their tastes. You can see the Yoko Miwa Trio at the upscale Les Zygomates and relax with fine French cuisine and wine, or at a laidback American-style brunch at Ryles Jazz Club, or in a funky Asian fusion environment for some sushi or tempura at Thelonious Monkfish.

Introducing a friend to jazz isn’t about evangelism, it’s just about sharing joy, so you don’t want anyone to feel pushed. For more thoughts on sharing joy through music, see our earlier blog post “When “Listen to This!” is a Gift.”

Jazz with Teens

October 17th, 2013

Since last week’s blog was about listening to jazz with your young kids, this week is about older kids and teens. By middle and high school, kids have their own taste in music – and typically, there’s some overlap in taste with their parents, and some musical interests that do not overlap at all! If you want to share your love of jazz with your teens, here are some ideas for getting started.

  • Listen to what they have to say about music. Propose a trade, and go to a concert they are interested in together, then take them to a concert of music you like.
  • Make sure they don’t feel left out at the venue you go to. Choose a venue in which not everyone will be drinking, or one in which the bartender will make the teens an elegant virgin cocktail.
  • Watch movies with jazz in them together, such as Chicago, All Night Long, Sweet and Low, and the many great movies out there profiling individual musicians, like Bird (Charlie Parker) or Lady Sings the Blues (Billie Holiday).
  • Invite your kid to bring a friend when going with you to jazz shows. They’ll have more fun, and who knows, maybe you’ll inspire more than one teen to get interested in jazz.
Yoko Miwa and a Berklee student

Yoko Miwa and a Berklee student

Jazz with Kids

October 10th, 2013

The Yoko Miwa Trio has fans of all ages, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. If you have kids, or if you spend a lot of time with friends’ kids, you may have thought about how to get kids into jazz. There’s no way to guarantee they will share your tastes in music, but there are lots of ways to explore and enjoy music with young children.

  • Head to your local library and pick up some kids’ books with jazz themes. A lot of the kids books on jazz that are out there focus only on the jazz scene from the 20s to the 50s, but still, they’ll be introduced to some legends. Picture books like “Charlie Parker Played Bebop” by Christopher Raschka and “The Jazz Fly” by Matthew Golub are great for reading aloud, as they are heavy on rhythm and onomatopoeia.
  • Try out some musical instruments. The appropriate age to start kids on music lessons varies based on what you and your child hope your child will get out of the lessons, but any age is a good time to play “chopsticks” or bang on a toy drum.
  • Dance around the living room together with your favorite jazz music playing. You don’t have to know any jazz dance – in fact, a lot of “jazz dance” is pretty grown-up oriented because of the sensual moves. Just be silly and uninhibited, acting out what the music makes you feel. Kids are great at this, so you may learn as much as they do.
  • Go to a show with your kids. Choose a venue that’s kid-friendly and enjoy some music out. The kids may not be as focused on the music as you are, but they’ll pick up on the fact that going to see live music is fun. For example, Ryles has some good food for little ones on their Jazz Brunch menu, like French toast, blueberry pancakes, eggs any style, and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Thank you for making the JazzFest Falmouth concert wonderful!

October 3rd, 2013

Thank you to everyone who came out to see the Trio on Sunday! It was a beautiful day on the Cape and our first time performing at Jazzfest Falmouth. Here are some reflections on the performance from Yoko.

“First, let me speak of the exquisite piano at Highfield Hall. It was a concert grand Mason & Hamlin, which is even bigger than a concert grand Steinway. When I first saw it I thought it may be hard to play.  Pianists have to play the instrument provided, and over the years I’ve learned how to deal with any type of piano. Sometimes the sound of a particular piano can be so intoxicating that it has a strong effect on how I play. It could be a harsh tone that doesn’t really agree with me but this piano lead me to the right place… this piano was like an old friend who was so happy to see me and I was equally happy.

Yoko Miwa at JazzFest Falmouth, Highfield Hall

“The concert had sold out in record time, so we knew we were going to have an audience, but you never know what your audience will be like until you’re in the midst of performance. This was not only an enthusiastic and appreciative audience,  the room was at capacity and the concert ended in immediate standing ovation. That would’ve been enough but this audience was special.

Yoko Miwa Trio and audience at JazzFest Falmouth, Highfield Hall

“It was one of those wonderful moments where we as performers could feed off the energy the audience was giving to us, helping to guide the direction of our improvisation. We played the beautiful ballad by Jerome Kern titled Don’t Ever Leave Me.” That’s they way we felt toward this audience and I think the feeling was mutual.”

Plan Your Visit to Falmouth to see the Yoko Miwa Trio

September 26th, 2013
If you have your tickets for Yoko Miwa Trio’s sold-out kickoff of the Falmouth JazzFest this Sunday, you will want to take some time to explore the area. If you’re coming from Falmouth or neighboring towns, you may well know the information below — please take a moment to tell us more about the highlights of the area in the comments! If you are coming from elsewhere on the Cape or further away, read on and plan your day.
If you enjoy nature, bundle up and take a walk at Ashumet Holly and Wildlife Sanctuary (286 Ashumet Road), or bike or walk along the Shining Sea Bikeway, which connects Falmouth and Woods Hole.  Or for a warmer walk, enjoy the shops on Main Street.
For fine dining, try The Glass Onion, a beloved American/fusion restaurant (37 N. Main Street) or Osteria La Civetta, an Italian restaurant with gluten-free as well as traditional homemade pasta (133 Main Street). If you prefer to eat somewhere with a more down-to-earth local flavor, Quahog Republic (97 Springs Bars Road) is your place for fish and chips or lobster rolls.

Head over to Highfield Hall early to experience the way autumn graces the building’s grounds. If you stop by earlier in the day when the building is open for visitation (10 am to 2 pm), you can see the three art exhibitions on display through the end of October. “Pocketful of Posies” displays Salley Mavor’s award-winning fabric relief illustrations of nursery rhymes. “America the Beautiful: The Words of Katharine Lee Bates interpreted in Fiber and Paint” is a collection of local artists’ work inspired by the song “America the Beautiful.” Complementing the art is a history exhibition, “Voice of the Tide,” on the life of Falmouth-born Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote “America the Beautiful.”

Most of all, enjoy the show!

Soulful Sips

September 19th, 2013

Thelonious Monkfish in Central Square, Cambridge, a jazz-themed asian fusion bar, recently created the Yoko Miwa’s Blue Tear, soon after Yoko started playing there regularly. It consists of sake, blue curacao, coconut milk and pineapple juice. You may have heard of a “Blue Tear Jerker,” which contains blue curacao and schnapps, but it’s not nearly as pretty as the white and blue layers of the Cambridge creation.

Yoko Miwa enjoys a Yoko Miwa's Blue Tear Thelonious Monkfish

Most alcoholic drinks associated with jazz are not so much linked to the music as they are to the Jazz Age, which was largely during Prohibition. Classic cocktails such as manhattans, gin rickeys, and martinis were standards at the time, fashionable out in the open in Europe and possibly even more popular behind closed doors in the States.

In Boris Vian’s surreal French novel “L’Ecume des Jours,” (Froth on the Daydream), the wealthy protagonist Colin loves to play the pianocktail, a piano-like instrument that creates a cocktail based on the music being played. He demonstrates that one can create harmonies that taste delicious, but also some beautiful, haunting, dissonant compositions that are horrific to drink! Since the novel came out in 1947, others have riffed on the concept, and artist-inventors have even attempted to create the instrument – but no reports have come back on whether the drinks or the music is good.

Drink responsibly, but enjoy music with abandon!

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