Angel City Jazz Festival to Feature Toshiko Akiyoshi

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The 2014 Angel City Jazz Festival will be held Sept. 19 to 28 at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theatre), The Blue Whale, the Aratani Theatre, and Barnsdall Art Park.

The 2014 theme “Full Circle” highlights Angel City Arts’ commitment to L.A.’s jazz community and its return to Barnsdall Art Park, the site of the first festival in 2008.

Performers will include:

youn sun nah• Youn Sun Nah with Ulf Wakenius on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo. $45 VIP, $35 general, $25 for students. This is a double-bill with John Beasley and Dwight Trible. One ticket covers admission for both sets.

Youn Sun Nah is well regarded for her remarkable vocal prowess. The Korean jazz vocalist’s ability to present each song in her own unique style filled with emotion and passion has consistently captured her audience in attentive silence, ending with roaring appreciation. Her artistry traverses the vocal spectrum effortlessly to the extent where she’s not just another vocalist, she’s a musical instrument. In 2005, French magazine Le Mond described her as “A UFO touching the universe of jazz with a magnificent voice and passionate originality.”

Growing up in a musical family where her father was a conductor and her mother a musical actress, music has always been in her life. YSN eventually began her own musical journey and made her debut at the tender age of 23 at a joint concert collaborating with the Korean Symphony Orchestra. The performance was her stepping-stone into the Korean music scene.

Though YSN was making waves in her home country, she decided to move to Paris in 1995 to study jazz and chanson. Striving for only the best, she enrolled herself into the CIM Jazz School, one of the oldest jazz schools in Europe. She also studied at the National Music Institute of Beauvais as well as the Nadia and Lili Boulanger Conservatory. At the turn of the millennium, she founded her first Parisian quintet, which won a special jury prize at the national jazz competition of the Festival de la Défense.

She received the Jazz Vocal Award from the Académie du Jazz in France, the Korean Music Award, and the Echo Award in Germany, and was decorated in 2009 with the insignia of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

In 2013, the Korean government awarded her with a special prize for her contribution to popular culture and the arts. She also gives lessons and master classes at universities and high schools throughout the United States, including New York University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Jazz Camp West, University of Alaska, Elon University, University of Southern Florida, West Virginia University, Berkeley Jazz School, University of the Pacific, UC Berkeley and the University of Maryland.

She has been featured in DRUM magazine, Downbeat, Jazz Times, Modern Drummer, Drummer UK, Jazziz, Yamaha All Access 360, TomTom Magazine, Traps, All About Jazz NY, and Female Musician magazine.

This concert is presented by The Jazz Bakery.

satoko fujii• Satoko Fujii and Kappa Maki on Sunday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. at REDCAT, 631 W. Second St. (entrance at Second and Hope), Los Angeles. $25 general, $15 for students.

Pianist Satoko Fujii and her husband, trumpeter Kappa Maki, are one of the most boldly creative and fearlessly innovative couples in contemporary music. Whether together in one of their regular groups or alone, they continue to push the boundaries of improvisation and composition.

Critics and fans alike hail Fujii as one of the most original voices in jazz today. A truly global artist, she splits her time between Berlin and Japan and tours internationally, leading several ensembles. Just as her career spans international borders, her music spans many genres, blending jazz, contemporary classical music, rock, and traditional Japanese music into an innovative synthesis instantly recognizable as hers alone.

Her wide-ranging compositions can incorporate the simple melodies of folk song, the harmonic sophistication of jazz, the rhythmic power of rock, and the extended forms of symphonic composers. Although Fujii’s compositions are full of sudden shifts in direction and mood, the extremes are always part of a greater conceptual whole. As an improviser, she is equally wide-ranging and virtuosic. In her solos, explosive free jazz energy mingles with delicate melodicism and a broad palette of timbre and textures.

Kappa Maki (Natsuki Tamura) is internationally recognized for his ability to blend a unique vocabulary of extended techniques with touching jazz lyricism. This unpredictable virtuoso “has some of the stark, melancholy lyricism of Miles, the bristling rage of late-’60s Freddie Hubbard and a dollop of the extended techniques,” according to Mark Keresman of JazzReview.com.

Tamura’s seamlessly limitless creativity led Francis Couture in All Music Guide to declare that “… we can officially say there are two Kappa Makis: The one playing angular jazz-rock or ferocious free improv… and the one writing simple melodies of stunning beauty… How the two of them live in the same body and breathe through the same trumpet might remain a mystery…”

toshiko akiyoshi• Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio on Friday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. at REDCAT. $35 general, $25 for students. Double-bill with Cathlene Pineda; one admission price for both shows.

Over the course of a six-decade career, pianist, bandleader, and composer-arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi has made a unique and vital contribution to the art of big-band jazz and to the international presence of outstanding female jazz artists.

Born in Manchuria, where she began playing the piano at age six, she moved back to Japan with her parents at the end of World War II. Her family, enduring the hardships of the period, could not provide her with an instrument, and so, just to touch a piano, she took her first job as a musician, playing in a dance-hall band.

“Greatness is greatness — regardless of gender, whether on the East Coast, the West Coast in Tokyo or anywhere else in the world, you will find it in this magnificently variegated, consistently exciting example of one of the outstanding jazz artists of our time!” said The L.A. Times.

Akiyoshi received a NEA Jazz Master award in 2007. This concert, featuring Akiyoshi on piano, Paul Gill on bass and Aaron Kimmel on drums, is presented by The Jazz Bakery, and is funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Japan Foundation.

The festival also features the Daniel Rosenboom Quintet (with Kai Kurosawa on bear trax and FX), Anthony Braxton, Craig Taborn, Wadada Leo Smith, Bobby Bradford, Vinny Golia, Azar Lawrence, Michael White, Araun Ortiz, and many others. For a complete schedule and reservations, go to http://angelcityjazz.com/full-circle.

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