Tokyo Jazz Festival 2011, The Report - Day 3

Tokyo Jazz Festival, Sunday, September 4th

Watch the video of Day 3 on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsPukuTh6hM

In this series of three parts, jazz writer and author of the book "Miles: The Companion Guide To The Miles Davis Autobiography" will give his own personal accounts and reactions to Tokyo Jazz Festival 2011 which took place three consecutive days at the beginning of the month of September. Each part will correspond to each appropriate day of the festival. This report is for day three, the final day.

Tokyo, Japan (Marc Antomattei Press) -- Going straight into the big names of day three, Sergio Mendes the bossa nova, samba, and jazz pianist (although jamming on this day with only a Yamaha Motif X58 keyboard) from Brazil played some tunes from his Brasil '66 (A&M, 1966) days and from his three most recent albums Timeless (Concord Records, 2008), Encanto (Concord Records, 2008), and Bom Tempo (Concord Records, 2010). Some of the tunes performed includes "The Waters of March," "Mas que Nada," "Surfboard," "Água de Beber," "Berimbau/Consolacao," and "The Look of Love." On the song "Berimbau," Mendes' percussionist left the drums for a moment's time to come to the front and center of the stage to perform the Afro-Brazilian dance/martial art Capoeira, which for many if it is their first time to see, it is a real spectacle to watch and behold. Although Mendes and his percussionist were great, the rest of the band weren't hitting the marks expected of them. Sergio Mendes set was good, not great, with some of the tunes sounding better on the albums then they do live. Is it too much to ask for a little more?

The big "Special Project" organized by Japanese trumpeter Terumasa Hino and featuring his Japanese fusion crew was great. Hino's stage presence and playing is more than a little Miles Davis inspired, anyone could easily tell this from his stature, the way he dressed, the way he held his trumpet, walked around the stage, usage of timing and space, and the way he brought the trumpet up to his lips. Even though obviously a bit of imitation, it was still good nonetheless, and quite cool too. The music he and his band played was free, dark, and brooding. It was very much Bitches Brew and In A Silent Way-esque.

Lee Ritenour and his "Super Guitar Session" followed up Terumasa Hino well and was a great contrast to the music Hino played. Both sets by both groups were great. While Hino's set was more jazz/hip hop fusion, Ritenour's set was more jazz/rock fusion. Lee Ritenour started off playing alone with a beautiful guitar melody before inviting out his two guests Mike Stern and Tomoyasu Hotei. The three together had a great chemistry going. Everything started off smooth and gradually went more rock n' roll. It was a roller coaster of a ride they brought the audience on with a lot of changes in tempo and genres. They rocked the place out in a thunderous way.

Not to be upstaged however, the final act still remained and they planned on moving everyone in an unspeakable way. Their introduction set the scene, Tokyo was in store for something larger than life, and the people could feel it in the air. As the drummer and keyboardist sat there playing out a beat and melody, the main attraction of stars began to take stage one-by-one. First Marcus Miller walked on stage, pausing and accepting the applause for his arrival. He continued walking and went over to his bass guitar, throwing the guitar strap over his shoulder and then began playing a bass melody. Just after everything sizzled and began to simmer again, the next guy, David Sanborn comes out. It's perfectly planned and timed arrivals that kept the audiences' adrenaline high and on the verge of breaking down from overjoyment. Then Sanborn began to blow, it was beautiful. It was an opportunity to rest, listen, and enjoy. Before the audience could get too comfortable however, here came George Duke right on cue to pick up his portable keyboard. Throwing the strap around his shoulder and wielding it like a guitar, the audience goes crazy again. DMS had in fact arrived. Playing out their opening tune "Run For Cover" like no one has ever heard it before, it was moving.

The thing DMS had cemented this night with their performance was that they were going to be the MVB (most valuable band) this year at the festival, not to be outdone by anyone. The entire three days of performances were fantastic and just like the third act of a great movie, they made certain when you left, you would never ever forget your experience for the rest of your life after you walked out of the theater. This was the way it's supposed to be. The night really did end the way it should have this time. DMS were tailor made for each other. Their repertoire of tunes they played "Straight To The Heart," "Brazilian Love Affair," "Tutu," "Dukey Stick," and "Da Butt" among a few others already sounded good before, but with the three together in this contemporary period and after being able to refine their music to perfection after years of playing it, this is the best it ever sounded. The only thing one could hope for now is an album containing all the music they performed at this festival, played the same way with the same arrangements and backing personnel. DMS should never play apart from each other again.

And so that's how the show closed out, with a bang. The audience left standing on their feet calling for an encore and not getting one. Everyone was left wanting more. So they'll have to wait until next year.

Day 3—Sunday, September 4th
-MAKIN' HAPPY!-

1:00 pm ~ 1:55 pm
Kenny Barron Trio featuring Kiyoshi Kitagawa and Johnathan Blake

2:05 pm ~ 2:55 pm
Hiromi Uehara x Kazunori Kumagai

3:10 pm ~ 4:00 pm
Sergio Mendes

-THE JAZZ SPECIAL-

6:00 pm ~ 6:50 pm
Terumasa Hino SPECIAL PROJECT feat. Masahiko Sato, dj honda
with Akira Ishii, Kenji Jeno Hino, Takashi Sugawa, Noritaka Tanaka, Saori Yano, Ryo Ogihara

7:05 pm ~ 7:55 pm
TOKYO JAZZ SUPER GUITAR SESSION
directed by Lee Ritenour
with special guests: Mike Stern, Tomoyasu Hotei, John Beasley,
Melvin Davis, Jon Weckl

8:10 pm ~ 9:00 pm
DMS—George Duke, Marcus Miller, Davis Sanborn

Copyright © 2011 Marc Antomattei Press.
Images courtesy of Marc Antomattei Press and may not be used for any purpose without the explicit consent of Marc Antomattei.

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