SAN JOSE — “Kabuki Cabaret,” a dramatic performance blending Japanese and Western instruments, will be presented as part of the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest on Saturday, Aug. 13, at 12 p.m. at Magnolia San Jose Repertory Theatre, 101 Paseo De San Antonio between 2nd and 3rd streets.
The show features Brenda Wong Aoki performing her original story “Mermaid Meat” and original music by Emmy Award-winning composer Mark Izu. The two began creating work together in 1979, having both studied with Japanese masters.
Historically in Japan, music, dance and drama take place together. Aoki and Izu continue that tradition with this performance, which features P.J. Hirabayashi, San Jose Taiko founder and co-artistic director.
The story was inspired when a pregnant Aoki learned that amniotic fluid, sea salt, blood and tears all had the same chemistry. “Mermaids connect us to the ocean, the womb of creation, and the source of life,” she says. “Ancient legend holds that mermaid meat is the secret to eternal youth. In this story a girl feasts on the flesh of a mermaid and suffers the consequences.”
Aoki’s works have been produced throughout the U.S. as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia and Austria. Her awards include three National Endowment Theater Fellowships. “The Queen’s Garden” (re-release 2008) and “Tales of the Pacific Rim” (1990) won INDIE awards for “Best Spoken Word.” Her book/CD “Mermaid Meat and Other Japanese Ghost Stories” was released in 2008. In 2009, she released “Legend of Morning Glory,” a kabuki love story and taiko oratorio.
Izu, a third generation Japanese-American, has fused the traditional music of Asia with African American improvisation. He plays acoustic bass as well as several traditional Asian instruments. Izu has gained international recognition for developing a new musical genre, Asian American jazz, and his CD “Threading Time” received Critic’s Choice as one of the top 10 spiritual jazz releases of 2008. He was artistic director of the Asian American Jazz Festival in San Francisco from 1990-2000.