The most gratifying time I ever recommended music to someone, I was about fifteen (Tegan, the blogger, here). I considered my mom’s close friends to be like aunts when I was growing up. My mom’s friend Paula, who lived a few towns over, had given us a lot of mix tapes over the years, and I had discovered a number of my favorite artists through her. Then one day, I read an interview with an indie singer/songwriter who it sounded like I would like, and who was going to be playing in the town where Paula lived. My mom and Paula and I went together – a few of my teenaged friends questioned the fact that I went to concerts with my mom, but we had the same taste in music, I automatically had a ride, and she often bought my ticket, so I saw no reason not to. After the concert, Paula said to me, “that was great – thanks for finding her!” I felt so proud that after years of recommendations from Paula, I had a recommendation to share.
This memory came up for me because when talking about weekend plans, a friend recently mentioned to me that she was going to Ryles for the jazz brunch. “I’m looking forward to it,” she said, “I haven’t been to Ryles in years – I keep meaning to go back, but what got me to go this time was that a friend strongly recommended the pianist who’s playing, Yoko Miwa. Have you heard of her?” I had to chuckle, and I explained that I’m not only a fan but the trio’s blogger. The conversation, and the memory it triggered, made me think about two things. One, it’s easy to go for years without going to a beloved restaurant or venue, or the show of a musician you love, unless someone or something reminds you. Two, recommending music to someone can be a very big and very personal gift.
The Trio’s drummer Scott Goulding remembers, “When I was only 16 years old, and visiting my sister at Harvard, I was standing around in Harvard Square at night when someone offered me a ticket to see Stan Getz at the Regattabar. I had heard his name but didn’t know much more about him other than he played saxophone. I ended up becoming a huge fan. I feel it must have been fate though because I never had a chance to see him perform again before he passed.”
Do you have any special memories of a time when you recommended music, or found a new favorite artist through a recommendation?
Who have you recommended the Yoko Miwa Trio to?
Episode five of Ken Burns’s JAZZ touches on many of the themes of the previous episode, with reminders that are particularly resonant right now: music brings people together and uplifts the spirit. Whether it was dancing to a swinging big band, or dreaming to a blues melody, Americans during the Great Depression found comfort in jazz. Also around that time, well-known jazz acts started playing on stages beyond just nightclubs and bars. Teenage fans who cherished their records flocked to these all-ages venues to see their idols live for the first time. (By the way, both Les Zygomates and Ryles Jazz Club are all ages, as well as many of the other venues the Yoko Miwa Trio plays).
This episode focuses on the 1930’s, the era of swing. One of the criticisms commonly leveled at Burns’s JAZZ series is that it focuses too much on the heydays of swing and bebop, skimming over more recent decades. This episode does spend a lot of time on a short span of years, It also provides good examples of one of my own concerns with the series. While the narration and readings of primary sources give a nuanced overview of the race politics associated with jazz, many of the interviews grossly oversimplify the same issues.
Despite these concerns, I recommend episode five, because it’s one of the best yet for visuals, having advanced into an era when there is plenty of film footage available from the time. The footage of the record production process near the beginning is especially worth a view. The episode is also great for interviews with musicians still alive at the time (who have since passed), including Artie Shaw, Harry “Sweets” Edison, and Dave Brubeck.
Clarinetist and band leader Artie Shaw spoke to what he felt jazz means when he said of Glen Miller, “The biggest problem: his band never made a mistake. And that’s one of the things wrong, because if you don’t ever make a mistake, you’re not trying. You’re not playing at the edge of your ability. You’re playing safely, within limits, and you know what you can do, and it sounds after a while extremely boring.”
We sincerely hope that you are all doing well after last week’s troubling events. We also want to thank everyone who came to Regattabar last week for being an amazing audience. We love you, Boston.
I was walking down State Street on Tuesday when I heard a local, standing on a stoop taking a cigarette break, shouting at a man in a Boston Marathon jacket. The runner paused, confused – locals don’t usually call out at tourists unless something’s wrong.
“Did you run, man?” said the local.
“God bless you, man,” said the local, with emotion in his voice.
This could have happened any year. The Marathon is a big deal in Boston, and many people have a lot of respect for the athletes who run it. But this conversation happened this year, and it was clear from the tone the local was thinking of the explosions, and showing support.
Boston feels like a family right now.
We will be going on with the concert at Regattabar tonight as planned. We hope to see you there, but more importantly, we hope that you and yours are safe and well.
Two weeks ago, we posted about Berklee College of Music’s admissions season, and by now, students are celebrating their acceptances. You know that we are celebrating the fact that a number of new videos are up on the Yoko Miwa Trio’s Youtube page.
A night out listening to live music is a great way to celebrate a special occasion or just the little things in life, and next week, you can see the Yoko Miwa Trio at The Regattabar in Cambridge – 7:30 pm, Thursday, April 18. If you don’t have your tickets yet, you can get them here.
If you don’t have a college acceptance, birthday, anniversary, promotion, or marathon success to toast to at the moment… here are some ideas for what to celebrate:
- Someone else’s birthday! Haley Mills of Parent Trap fame, for example, was born on April 18. Or, you could treat a friend to the show.
- If you’re a student or member of the Japanese Association of Greater Boston or the Japan Society of Boston, there are discounts available for your show tickets.
- In Japan, April 18 is “Invention Day,” honoring the country’s first patent law.
- On April 18 in 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes began the famous “midnight ride,” warning Patriots that British Regulars were on their way to capture Patriot leaders. The third “midnight” rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott, joined them at one or two in the morning, after visiting his fiancee. The next day, the American Revolution began.
- The weather forecast for Boston is in the 50s and 60s all this coming week. Hello Spring!
Are you subscribed to the Yoko Miwa Trio’s Youtube channel? Half a dozen new videos from the November 2012 performance at Scullers Jazz Club went up this week. The videos include covers of artists from Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young to Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner as well as one of Yoko’s original compositions, Flood of Tears.
A limited number of copies of the Trio’s album Act Naturally, released last summer on the Japanese label JVC Victor Entertainment, will be available for purchase at the April 18 show at Regattabar. That show is only two weeks away, so get your tickets now!
Not sure you’re coming to the show? Below are some videos that might change your mind.
Only Love Can Break Your Heart — this song is on Act Naturally
No, it’s not the Head of the Charles rowing regatta. Regattabar is the musical heart of the Charles Hotel, and the jazz soul of Harvard Square.
The Yoko Miwa Trio will be performing at Regattabar in Cambridge, MA, Thursday, April 18, at 7:30pm. Regattabar has been named one of the “Best of Boston” by Boston Magazine thirteen times, and they are also home to a stunning annual jazz festival.
Considered by many to be one of Boston’s premier jazz venues, largely because of their ability to attract big-name musicians from around the world, Regattabar can also be a hot spot to catch up-and-coming jazz acts. Regattabar is on the third floor of the Charles Hotel, transforming what could have been a conference room into a special place for amazing music. Regular customers say that while there isn’t a bad seat in the house, there are good seats and then great seats, and you’ll want to buy tickets with your friends to sit together – a good incentive to get your tickets early!
Regattabar is closer than you might think to Harvard Square, just a few blocks away. If you want to take the T, take Brattle Street to Elliot Street and you’ll find the Charles Hotel on the corner of Elliot and Bennett. Because it’s so close to Harvard Square, you have all kinds of options for dining or a drink before the show. Both of the restaurants in the Charles Hotel, cozy Henrietta’s Table and swanky Rialto, offer discounts to Regattabar ticket holders, and there are also drinks and light fare at the venue.
Two weeks ago, this blog featured a video montage of past Yoko Miwa Trio performances at Regattabar. Check it out, then buy your tickets for April 18 on the website or by calling (617)395-7757.
Earlier this month, you read a review of the second episode of the Ken Burns film JAZZ. On to part three!
The third episode delves into the Harlem Renaissance, in which culture blossomed in the New York City neighborhood. Mostly Black musicians entertained Blacks and Whites alike in separate venues in Harlem’s heavily segregated speakeasies. One of the most famous music venues was The Cotton Club, and it was a jazz musician’s dream to play there. Duke Ellington and his band secured a job playing there on a regular basis, after a four-year gig at the Kentucky Club. Playing the Cotton Club was widely regarded as the point Ellington went from being a rising star to the brightest star on the scene at the time. The Cotton Club is also the namesake of a venue the Yoko Miwa Trio has played in Tokyo! Just like the Yoko Miwa Trio’s residencies with Les Zygomates and Ryles Jazz Club, Ellington’s relationship with the original Cotton Club was fruitful for the musician, the venue, and the loyal fans.
Another feature of 1920’s jazz was that music recording was continuing to expand. As one of the featured speakers in the series explained, the Jazz Age and the advent of recording coincided in a way that meant that improvisation was documented and respected like it never had been. “Improvisation, of course, exists before jazz. Beethoven was a celebrated improviser… but there was no way to document it.” Jazz records showed that “An improvisation can be just as coherent, imaginative, emotionally satisfying, and durable as a written piece of music.” Records also helped spread the jazz craze to Europe, and soon, jazz became a staple of European nightlife, although many of the most famous performers were American. Some, like the singer Josephine Baker, moved overseas permanently. Many White Europeans treated jazz as exotic, finding its rhythms sexy but also primitive and savage. One thing was for sure, though, and that was that people loved the music.
If you love good music, too, be sure to get your tickets for the Yoko Miwa Trio’s April 18 show at The Regattabar.
On Thursday, April 18, the Yoko Miwa Trio will be performing at Regattabar in Cambridge, MA.
If you want to know more about the venue, stay tuned for an upcoming blog post, but to really get the feel of the place, this video shows moments from the trio’s past performances at Regattabar.
If the video got you excited for the real thing, don’t worry, April’s right around the corner. The April 18 show will be at 7:30 pm at Regattabar at the Charles Hotel, One Bennett Street, Cambridge MA. Tickets are $20, buy yours online or call 617-395-7757.