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No.167 (7/9/10)

The Nango Summer Jazz Festival 2010

By Simon Bernard
Guest Writer

The little sleepy village of Nango, located just southwest of Hachinohe, comes alive every July putting on the largest open-air jazz concert in Tohoku. This year on Saturday, July 24, the villagers are celebrating the 21st annual festival, bringing in some of the best world renowned jazz groups from all over Japan and America.

Small beginnings: It was all started back in 1989 by the Nango mayor who was a great jazz fan! Inviting local groups from Aomori prefecture to do an indoor show, they realized from the response of the fans that they needed to expand. From 1990 on, they started having the shows outside and even built an outdoor amphitheater to hold the festival with Mother Nature surrounding the event.
Now thousands of jazz aficionados every year drive and bus in to Nango from all over Aomori, Iwate, and Akita prefectures and beyond to dig on the sounds of jazz. From last year, the times have been moved up to be more jazz fan friendly. The hot show starts from mid-day and goes on while the sun sets and continues with the cool sounds into the evening under the twinkling stars.

Who's coming? This year's lineup should really appeal to all ages of jazz lovers. Starting at 2 p.m., the First Session starts with Shinpei Ruike Quartet (drums, bass, piano & trumpet) to kick things off. Aomori born Ruike has been called one of the top ten trumpet players now performing worldwide! Teaming up with Korean pianist Hakuei Kim, French Jazz magazine called their latest CD Distorted Grace “dynamic”!

Next, the Second Session: Rigmor Gustafsson Trio (vocals, guitar & piano) featuring Swedish Rigmore on vocals. Making their first trip to Japan, the group, which makes their home in New York City for the last 20 years, is renowned worldwide. Swedish beauty Rigmore on vocals will knock your socks off!

 Now that you are warming up you should be ready for Session Three: The Eric Miyashiro EM Band (piano, four trumpets, three trombones, bass-trombone, two tenor saxophones, two alto saxophones, baritone saxophone, drums, and bass). Eric, “the wonder boy genius” from Hawaii brings his 17-member band to blend jazz, J-pop, rock, classic and who-knows-what to mesmerize you will his unique sound! After that you are going to want to pick up a copy of his latest CD “PLEIADES” to continue listening on your way home!

Now you are cookin’ hot and ready for the fourth session: Katsumi Watanabe “Return to Jazz Project” (guitar, bass, drugs & alto saxophone). Cutting his first album when he was only 17, Watanabe is one of the best-known Jazz artists in Japan. The Jazz Project first formed in '91 has played their “jazz fusion” internationally and Swing Journal magazine gave him the #1 ranking most popular jazz musician award 3 years in a row since 2007!

You are gonna need a break after this just to cool down! Sorry, not a chance with the next group coming up!

The Fifth Session begins with: The Yosuke Yamashita=Shigeharu Mukai Special Session! (piano, bass, drums, trombone, tenor sax). This will definitely be the highlight of the evening! These two are household names in Japan. The Japanese has given Yamashita's unique jazz piano style the nickname “The World OF Yamashita” and Mukai is rated the best trombonist in Japan! Their free form jazz spontaneity will blow your mind!

Grand Finale! This year the Nango Jazz Committee has decided to end the festival later than last year to give you something to rave about! The finale will be a jazz jam session with all the best musicians on stage to send you off! This is something you are going to want to stick around for!

Easy Directions: It takes less than one half an hour to get to Nango from Misawa Air Base. Go out the Falcon (POL) gate and start counting traffi c lights. Turn left at the 13th light to get on the Dai Ni (No.2) Michinoku Expressway. At the 1st toll booth, pay 250 yen and get an expressway ticket. Continue straight (you will go past the Shimoda Mall and then the Hachinohe Kita interchanges), the expressway will merge with the Hachinohe Expressway as if you were going toward Tokyo. Get off at the next exit (Nango interchange), pay the toll. Go to the stop sign and turn right. Go about 1 and a half kilometers and the venue will be on the right next to the Kakko-no-Mori rest stop. Traffic control will guide you to a parking area.

The concert takes place regardless of weather. So take sun block or a rain coat or both! Umbrellas should not be brought in unless you plan on sitting all the way in the back so you do not disturb the view of the people in front of you!

Buy your tickets in advance and save money: Tickets are 4,500 yen in advance (5,500 yen at the gate on the day of the festival) for adults. 2,500 yen for senior and junior high school students, age 13 to 18 (3,500 at the gate). There is free admission for elementary school students and younger kids (12 and under)! Advance tickets can be bought at Misawa ITT on base. Student tickets are limited so buy early. Gates opens at 12:30.

This year again, Misawa ITT with have a bus that will leave at 10:00 from the base library and take you to the festival and back. This bus will fill up fast so reserve your seats early. Call 226-3555 for more information.

Tips from a veteran: There are no bad seats but if you want seats close-up, go very early and get in line with a cooler, meet the people in front and back of you, offer them a soft drink or beer. Once they know you, you can walk around until before the gates open then get back in line...or take turns waiting in line or bring some lawn chairs (put them back in your vehicle just before the gates open). Small camp chairs are OK if used in the back, but lawn and reclining chairs can not be bought in. Bring a blanket, get your seats and again meet the new people around you, then you can get up again! There are a lot of stalls selling all kinds of delicious food and drinks. There are also grassy knolls behind the semi-circle of seats where you can lay a blanket down and watch the show!

Can you camp or Bar-B-Q?
There are very limited tent spaces available to camp just outside the gate of the festival site near the field and track area. You will have to go EARLY Saturday morning if you want to get one. The tent sites are free but you must sign in fi rst. Tents and tarps are not allowed in the festival site. Bar-B-Q-ing is only allowed around your tent if you are a signed in camper. You can not Bar-B-Q inside the festival site or make campfires anywhere.

This year should be the best Jazz Fest yet, get out and experience Aomori! See you there.


著者: サイモン バーナード


小さな出発:イベントの始まりは、1989年に南郷村のジャズファンだった村長が青森県のローカルグループを集めて行った屋内演奏がきっかけだったのだが、その熱狂的なファンが増えたこともあって、その期待に応えるために規模を広げる必要があった。1990年から屋外にうつり、特設ステージを設け、大自然に囲まれて行われる。 今日では、毎年数千人のジャズファンたちが青森、岩手、秋田県からジャズの音色を探求しにバスなり車なりではるばるやってくる。去年ごろからジャズファンフレンドリーの時間に変えられた。昼にはじまり、またたく星の下、涼やかな夕べまで続く。

誰が来るの?:今年のラインナップはどの年齢層のジャズファンにも魅力的だ。午後2時にシンペイ・ルイケ・カルテットで第一セッションが始まる。青森県の出身で、世界で10本の指に入るトランペッターだ。韓国人ピアニストのハク・キムと組んで、フランスのジャズ雑誌が、彼らの新しいCD(Distorted Grace)を「ダイナミック」だと紹介している。



興奮して熱くなってきたところで、第四ステージの紹介といこう。カツミ・ワタナベの「Return to Jazz Project」だ。若干17歳でアルバムを出したワタナベは日本で最も有名なジャズアーティストだ。Jazz Projectは91年に結成し、国際的にジャズフュージョンし、スイングジャーナル誌上で、2007年から連続三年間、最も人気のジャズミュージシャンと賞された。








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