All posts by KotoJazz.com

Koto Jazz piano player. Koto Jazz is a new innovative sound that integrates Japanese koto melodies with western rhythm and jazz.

Stormy Weather Arts Festival Sees Sunny Days

Here are more pix from the Stormy Weather Arts Festival, November 3-5, 2017; at the Jeffrey Hull Gallery and the next day at the Coaster Theater.

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KotoJazz @ Jeffrey Hull Gallery, Nov. 3

 

Beautiful water color and oil paintings, by Jeffrey Hull Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR. Visit the gallery at 172 N. Hemlock St., downtown Cannon Beach, and join me for some KotoJazz at 5pm, Friday, November 3rd. Visit  http://www.hullgallery.com/the-30th-annual-stormy-weather-arts-festival/

KotoJazz @ West Seattle, August 26, 1:30-2:30 pm

You’ll find multiple intimate but spectacular outdoor performance stages: the new amplified Nancy Stage, the Meadow, on the climbing Glacier and in a forested grove by the Pond. The festival offers over 40 performances ranging from jazz, classical, indie rock, bluegrass, contemporary dance, and spoken word. The “Museum of Sound” is displayed through eight rustic cabins, hands-on art and nature activities, and winding hiking trails through the great outdoors.

In the Museum of Sound, artists take over Camp Long’s historic cabins to create installations that blend sound, music, and visual arts.

I will be playing the keyboard at the Entrance to the Arts in Nature Festival on August 26, Saturday, 1:30pm – 2:30pm at West Seattle’s Camp Long. The Arts in Nature Festival 2017 is produced by the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association  I’m playing KotoJazz on the keyboard at the Entrance of the Festival. Location: Corner of 35th Ave., SW and SW Dawson Street, West Seattle’s Delridge neighborhood. See more information at http://fest.naturec.org.

Koto Jazz Piano at Japan Fair 2017, July 8 & 9, 2:30pm – 5pm; Annual Dinner, Sat. July 8, 6pm

Come join me at what promises to be an enjoyable event that offers you a visual introduction to all things Japanese. This includes a colorful fashion show to original Japanese performance by famous Kokyu performer Daikuke Kiba and my own variations on 1,000 year old Japanese koto music played on the keyboard. These include Haru no Umi, Tori no Yo Ni, and Kojo no Tsuki. I will also play my originals including recent art show selections Windy Wheat Fields and Snow Blossoms, and hyper fast Snow Flurry.

Sample previews are available here: https://kotojazz.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/sanger-de-christo-arts-center-represents-the-west-with-classy-exhibit/

 

Sangre de Cristo Arts Center “Represents the West” With Quality Exhibit

The Sangre de Cristo Arts Center in Pueblo, Colorado showcases a stellar presentation, professional art exhibit “Representing The West”. My music was selected among 550 artists as part of the digital media section:

Song 01: Windy Kansas Wheat Fields

Song 02: Snow Blossoms

Song 03:  Snow Flurry

04: metamorph senses CD

In and Around the “Representing the West” Exhibit:

Out and About the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center:

3 Diet Picks for 2017

Natural Wellness offer popular diets from three sources. I never expected to need to pay attention to health issues and what I consumed, but with a liver issue, I do now. The principles of these three diets are consistent with the following:

  1. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
  2. Avoid or eliminate high fat, high sugar, and highly processed foods.

http://www.naturalwellness.com/nwupdate/your-top-3-diet-picks-for-2017/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=nwu133&utm_medium=email

Varieties of Garden Landscape Flowers

I am guilty of consuming garden plants like a sweet tooth consumes candy.

The following is an account/ list of all the plants I purchased in 2016, primarily for my front ornamental garden only. The garden image of my front Japanese/ Chinese gardens can be viewed here at Kotojazz 83: the lazy man’s way to making area gardens. I also purchased a few herbs for the back yard, ranging from chamomile to parsley, fennel, mints and sage.

 

Koto Jazz tune 91: Creating a free form, “chaos” music

Indeterminate music happens when a musician creates a base melody, and leaves the rest to spontaneous chance and free flow of expression. Instead of the musician taking the driver’s seat, the musician surrenders to letting the music take the driver’s seat; take the musician wherever it leads. It was first practiced by John Cage and Brian Eno say some, but this type of creative expression has been around since the first music was created.

In the mid- and then late 1900s, it has been made into somewhat of a classification of its own. Indeterminate music, a “composing approach in which some aspects of a musical work are left open to chance or to the interpreter’s free choice”, according to Wikipedia.

With that, here is an attempt to create some form around it. First you have the music piece itself. This music can itself take on its own life and expression around its main themes – deter, detract, explore outside of its originating themes, chordal structure and basic musical patterns – and then later return to those main themes. In fact, the whole idea of “indeterminacy” means it does not necessarily need to return to the original themes. It just seems to help the listener connect to the music more effectively, to hear some semblance of familiarity with the musical score.

Systems based indeterminate sound seems to have its own characteristics and tendencies. It takes advantage of all the ways of changing an original score. These include:

  1. Modulate
  2. Reverberations
  3. Delay
  4. Compress
  5. Distortion

A truly indeterminate music piece can not only deter off the main themes, but it also may modulate, reverberate, delay, compress, and distort at any given part of the music piece. This indeterminacy might have a connection with the concept of “chaos jazz” I’ve discussed in previous blogs entries on Kotojazz; e.g., Li Pui Ming’s style of jazz.

Chaos variations of known music scores have been a topic of intrigue at various times and places. For example, Diana Dabby an MIT graduate in electrical engineering sought to make the connection between music and math, including using “math to create new musical ideas.” Beyond that, using math to generate inspiration and far reaching creativity. “The principles of her work have now been used to create new dance “chaography” and even a chaotic remix of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ according to a 2013 article about her in t he Boston Globe (see “What a little chaos does for music”). Her works refer back to Ilya Prigogine’s “chaos theory” in physics and mathematics. The article says that in mathematics, “‘chaos’ is actually the result of a system that is evolving according to set rules”, even though it often does not appear that way. The reason chaotic systems seem so unpredictable and random is that they are “sensitive to slight changes in initial conditions, commonly referred to as the butterfly effect”. So too, the “butterfly effect” applies to music as well. These are the makings of the “nonlinear dynamics”, as explained in the article by Dabby’s associate and University of Colorado, Boulder professor Liz Bradley. Just as musical expression challenges people to explore their deepest most personal secrets, music will find its way to unleash all of it and more. So in this sense, it is a reflection of our self awareness and what I believe we refer to as spirituality.

 

 

 

 

Koto Jazz Tunes 90: 2 Originals “Represent the West” @ Sangre de Cristo

Another stroke of luck. In January – March 2017 two of my original Kotojazz tunes are recognized as “Representing the West” at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center annual exhibit. These are pure new age Americana folk songs. “Snow Blossoms” was inspired by the blue violets peeking through melting snow on a sunny winter day along Boulder Creek trail in  Boulder, Colorado. “Windy Kansas Wheat Fields” was inspired by strong wind blowing over fields of grass and wheat creating a steady undulating flow like ocean waves. You can see the wind blowing through wheat fields in eastern Colorado and Kansas. Both feed our souls, in their simplicity and stillness (snow blossoms) and their awesome enduring power (windy Kansas wheat fields).

I am reminded that the “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it; you know neither from where it comes nor to where it goes, and so it is with the Spirit.”

Previews of these songs are available here:

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/chriskenjibeer5

 

KotoJazz 89: David Wilborn’s ‘jazz it up’ tune @ C&P West Seattle

 

David Wilborn likes to jazz it up with some upbeat, almost ragtime rhythmic tunes. His music is mostly improvisation and this is one of those. As a gifted creator of sound into melodic rhythm, it’s been a pleasure and privilege to have Dave as a friend for over 20 years, and as a music partner for the past year.

Sometime the smaller venues are more fun and interactive and relaxing for us both, and we find that C&P Coffee Company which hosts music performers like us every week, is just such the place  to make you feel at home. It is located right on the main drag in West Seattle at 5621 California Street, just south of the West Seattle “Junction”. Stop by sometime and you just might find us rockin’ up this classic coffee house, or someone else like us. The coffee and service there is fabolicious!

Kampo & Chinese Medicine

The Japanese health care system is imaginatively and brilliantly eastern- western integrated and yes, supremely “ying” and “yang”. To expand on the document I published with the U.S. – Japan Foundation many years ago, the following describes kampo which is covered by health insurance providers in Japan. Japanese kampo is the study of traditional Chinese medicine that began in the 7th century. While kampo includes acupuncture and holistic wellness, herbal medicine has become the centerpiece of modern kampo. Herbal medicines have been used in China for thousands of years. They have been standardized and manufactured for widespread commercial use in Japan.

The medicinal use of plants was called the Shennong Ben Cao Jingo in China which was compiled around the end of the first century B.C. At the time, 365 species of herbs or medicinal plants were identified and classified. Chinese medical practices were introduced to Japan through Korea during the 6th century A.D. From 608 to 838, Empress Suiko dispatched young physicians to China. In those years, Japan sent 19 missions to Tang, China to research and bring back Chinese herbal medicine to Japan. Today in Japan, 148 different, mostly  herbal abstracts can be prescribed under Japan’s national health insurance system (source: National Institute of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114407/). Modern day Kampo is different from modern traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). While TCM incorporates Chinese philosophy such as yin and yang, Japanese campo favors a more scientific approach.

The first volume of the treatise included 120 drugs harmless to humans, the “stimulating properties”. These herbs are described as “noble” or “upper herbs” (上品):

chineseherbs

The second volume comprise 120 therapeutic substances intended to treat the sick, but have toxic, or potentially toxic properties of varying degrees. These are tonics and boosters, whose consumption must not be prolonged. In this category, the substances are described as “human,” “commoner,” or “middle herbs” (中品):

The third volume has 125 entries containing substances which have a strong impact on physiological functions and are often poisonous. They are taken in small doses, and for the treatment of specific diseases only. They are referred to as “low herbs” (下品), these include:

Japanese/ Western Influence:

Yumoto Kyūshin (1876–1942), a graduate from Kanazawa Medical School, was a key proponent of scientifically interpreting and testing Chinese medicine. His “Japanese-Chinese Medicine” (Kōkan igaku) published in 1927 was the first book on Kampō medicine in which western medical findings were used to interpret classical Chinese texts. The significance of these Japanese publications is documenting the application of clinical trials and empirical data to determine specific chemical properties and their functions within the Chinese herbs.

Sho-Saiko-To:

One such example today is Sho-saiko-to. The Chinese herbal medicine “Sho-saiko-to” is a mixture of seven herbal preparations, which is widely administered in Japan to patients with liver damage caused by chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis. Sho-saiko-to contains

  • Bupleurum Root,
  • Pinellia Tuber,
  • Scutellaria Root,
  • Ginseng,
  • Jujube,
  • Licorice, and
  • Ginger.

The herbs include such properties as baicalin and baicalein, and saikosaponin which possess anti-fibrogenic activities and the ability to inhibit hepatoma cell proliferation. Clinical trials have been confirmed in the U.S. by Natural Wellness for their SST product – http://www.naturalwellness.com/products/sho-saiko-to-sst.

The following are not connected in any way to sho-saiko-to, but are similarly organic and naturopathic. These herbs and foods are known to be easy on the liver and/or health remedies for the liver:

  • lemon/ lime,
  • avocados,
  • turmeric,
  • leafy green vegetables,
  • green tea,
  • walnuts,
  • garlic,
  • olive oil,
  • dandelion leaf,
  • beets,
  • carrots,
  • broccoli,
  • cauliflower,
  • grapefruit,
  • apples,
  • cabbage,
  • quinoa,
  • millet/ buckwheat.

Each of the 365 species of herbs and medicinal plants and various combinations from Chinese medicine and Japanese kampo are either healing agents, serve as preventive health care, or support ongoing health maintenance.

But don’t forget, there are a range of healthy remedies in standard western herbs which we already incorporate into our daily consumption extravaganzas. The standard cooking herbs pictured here are a healthy supplement to your diet.

herbgarden

By Chris Kenji Beer, Koto jazz

Sources: National Institute of Health, Japanese Society of Oriental Medicine, Natural Wellness, Wikipedia , shosaikoto.com, iherb.com.

 

KotoJazz 88: Dry Creek Rocks

A dry creek is often preferred over a creek with flowing water. It provides the visual effect of flowing water, and doesn’t require the maintenance of a flowing stream. In this case, using black creek rocks offer a striking color contrast to the green ground covers.

The sound of flowing water can be experienced by adding a simple recycling water feature, such as the mini waterfall toward the back of this mini garden.

This landscaper uses a few types of flowering ground covers along the black dry creek in the foreground accented with Japanese maples in the background.

There are three types of Japanese maples featured here. Two Japanese purple lace maples in the foreground and far rear and the canopy created by the taller green moonlight maple in the center.  Variegated hostas, an azalea, tulips, a calla lily, and mock bamboos offer nice fill ins for variety and balance.

metamorph senses (new CD release & a koto jazz tune)

This new CD mostly live production was crazy, experimental fun – anchored by a few George Winston covers, a touch of Narada/ Silver Wave- style new age, a koto jazz tune, and some “off the beaten path”, eclectic wacko improvisations . . . and you have a metamorphosis of the senses –

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/chriskenjibeer5

metamorphsenses_final02