Category Archives: chaos jazz

Koto Jazz 85: Next Wednesday @The Royal Room

Take a mid-week break next Wednesday and relax by stopping by The Royal Room at 7:00-9:30pm, April 13th as Patrick Wilson and I demo our experimental session of Koto Jazz with bossa nova rhythm and beat on the Steinway and Patrick’s invention, the SyntHorn. We’re attempting to further refine it to make it truly stage worthy in preparation for Northwest Folklife opening day. We perform for Northwest Folklife on Friday, May 27 at 4:30pm-5:10pm. The Koto Jazz will be stage worthy with bossa nova fusion. The Royal Room is located in south Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood at 5000 Rainier Ave South, Seattle. See http://theroyalroomseattle.com for quality dining and drinks. This will be part of a donation of $100 I plan to give to the Royal Room and Wayne Horvitz toward piano repairs!!     

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Mono No Aware – Acceptance

Sea-Tac Airport – The first photo features CD covers of Pearl Jam by Muni One. Mono no aware in Japanese means the awareness of the impermanence of everything, and acceptance of things as they are. The second photo shows samples of the Chihuly glass productions.

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Where was the Bass Guitar Invented?

Bass guitar was originally invented in Seattle native Paul Tutmarc developed this instrument in the early 1930s, although he didn’t receive much recognition or success from it. It became more revolutionary after Fender and Fullerton’s rendition came out shortly after in the 1950s (source: onlyinyourstate.com).

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Patrick Wilson’s SyntHorn on the koto jazz tune

For the off beat eclectic innovator, the SyntHorn is an amazing, fun and crazy instrument. One of my neighbors and friends Patrick Wilson in Seattle created a digital instrument he calls The SyntHorn (short for synthesizer horn). The horn itself produces an unique, distant echoing cavernous sound effect. The SyntHorn includes the horn, a mini- digital keyboard, Oscillator, Chaoscillator, Monotron delay unit, two Internal Horn speakers, and one external speaker. Since the the features and function completely run on rechargeable batteries, it can played anywhere at any time. A carrying strap fits over the shoulder. All this resides in one unit.

Here is a sampling of Patrick live on the SyntHorn –

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Join me in my next performances at C&P Coffee, Columbia City’s Royal Room, and Stone Way Café to hear our progressive electronic jazz. Patrick, a former DJ at a local college radio station, will join me in jazzing up my koto jazz tunes and offer up a few of his own originals with my accompaniment on the keyboard.

It makes sounds and rhythms you’ve never heard before.

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Koto Jazz 83: Song Stories- Wandering Rhino Bug

If our local Seattle grunge band The Presidents of the United States of America can get away with writing songs about bugs (Boll Weevil, Lady Bug), I figure I can too.

This is a fun, eclectic koto jazz tune about one of my most memorable life experiences. My brother, Uncle Yasushi and I used to go hunting, not for a rhinosaurus with a gun, but for rhinosaurus beetles with a net in rural Japan. They make for popular pets in Japan, as do so many exotic insects. The less adventurous just go to the local insect pet store, and are able to purchase them. We preferred the tree climbing approach where the “Kabuto mushi” (Rhinosaurus beetle) dwell. Unfortunately, the last of my bug collection was soaked up by the summer flood of 2014 in Boulder, Colorado.

This version was recorded live at Egan’s Jam House in Ballard last weekend, November 21st, and was one of a number of new songs I introduced at the show. Here is the recording: Wandering Rhino Bug

Egan’s Jam House – Another Cool Koto Jazz night in Ballard

I really got into a zone rockin’ the piano. Sometimes it feels like I’m connecting to the true “Seattle Sound”, an almost eclectic, grunge sound on the keyboard. . . if that is possible. Live recordings will be coming soon. The feedback I have from a handful of attendees last night at Egan’s Jam House tells me these were the most well received tunes:

1) The Hummingbird song (no surprise, I rocked it; Hatchidori wa Hana Kara Hana e Tobu);
2) Tide Pools @ Waves (no surprise, this one reached the top 10 out of 80k songs on soundclick.com);
3) Odds & Endings (same as Tide Pools);
4) Ripples on Creek Rocks (surprised, this is the one that aired on KSFK NPR jazz radio, in S. Alaska, and I still don’t know why)
5) Mount Index Ice Caves (surprised, an acquired taste; haunting sounds)
6) Thanksgiving (surprised, this one by Peter Kater)

Worth a listen here @ Chris Kenji Beer on Soundclick.com

Thanks so much y’all for coming. (no more singing, I promise, except by Marie. Lol.)

Michelle, Earl, Rob & Matt hanging out after the show @ Egan's Jam House Ballard
Michelle, Earl, Rob & Matt hanging out after the show @ Egan’s Jam House Ballard
Ed Yakuzawa, photo by Allan Camhi after the show @ Egan's Jam House Ballard
Ed Yakuzawa, photo by Allan Camhi after the show @ Egan’s Jam House Ballard
Chris Kenji on piano
Chris Kenji on piano
Egan's Jam House in Ballard from one of Marie's friends.
Egan’s Jam House in Ballard from one of Marie’s friends.

Join Me This Saturday, Nov. 21st in Ballard @ Egan’s Jam House

Come join me, Chris Kenji, Saturday, November 21st, 9:00 pm – 10:30pm, at Egan’s Jam House in Ballard, northwest Seattle. I will bring you new songs on the piano, including Odds & Endings, Seascape, and my new Koto Jazz piece, Motto Midare (More Chaos).

I will also sing a few popular classic rock/ folk songs with an eclectic alternative style. In between these vocals, I will play my “Koto Jazz- Sounds from the Coast” tunes. $5.00 cover. For directions and map, visit map here: 1707 NW Market Street (Ballard), Seattle; Call or text: 206-200-2733.

Marie Bolla & Chris Kenji Beer @ The Royal Room

It was a relaxing night of playing at the Royal Room on Tuesday night, and the modest- sized audience was very generous with their contributions. To friends and fans, thanks so much for coming on a weeknight. The donations were solid, so I call it a good night. It means they either really liked your music, or they really, really felt sorry for you. Lol. I say it means you “approve this message”, so thanks. It is also possible we found an introduction to Paul Simon in the audience. 😉

The evening started with a few original works that will be included in my second CD, and a Koto Jazz tune include:
– Falling Leaves
– Seascape
– Haystack Horse Trot
– Protective dissonance

Marie chimed in with vocals for the following ballads:
– Fragile by Sting
– Rivers & Roads
– Make You Feel My Love
– Goodnight Irene

Marie Bolla & Chris Kenji Beer with Marie's friends.
Marie Bolla & Chris Kenji Beer with Marie’s friends.
Marie singing and on keyboard.
Marie singing and on keyboard.
Rob Ingram & Jay Gray at the Royal Room, Columbia City, South Seattle
Rob Ingram & Jay Gray at the Royal Room, Columbia City, South Seattle
Marie Bolla with Victory Music members David John and Ed Yakuzawa @ The Royal Room.
Marie Bolla with Victory Music members David John and Ed Yakuzawa @ The Royal Room.
The Royal Room, November 27 @ 7:30 - 9:30pm, Columbia City, South Seattle.
The Royal Room, November 27 @ 7:30 – 9:30pm, Columbia City, South Seattle.

KFSK Radio, NPR Syndicate Airs Koto Jazz, “Ripples On Creek Rocks”

It’s nice to have one of my songs airing on NPR syndicate KFSK Radio in Petersburg, Alaska’s Rainforest Festival music playlist (September).

Here is that song, at Amazon Music: Ripples on Creek Rocks,

and a link to the same song on Soundclick.com: http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=1382715

Marie Bolla and Chris Kenji on Stage @ Royal Room, October 27th

Marie Bolla will sing beautiful classic folk/ contemporary jazz songs with Chris at the keyboards. Marie has played piano and sang nearly her entire life, and has received local awards for her performances. She has played with the popular Seattle area bands. The first half of the show will feature Chris Kenji’s new piano instrumental tunes for his second CD “Sounds from the Coast”, to be followed by Marie Bolla and Chris Kenji in a keyboard duet with Marie singing solo.

Come join us OCTOBER 27th, 7:30-9:30pm (Tuesday),“Sounds from the Coast”, by Chris Kenji and Marie Bolla at the The Royal Room, Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood ; no cover charge. “Koto Jazz- Sounds from the Coast” by Chris Kenji and Marie Bolla. For directions and map, visit map to Royal Room, Seattle. Address: 5000 Rainier Avenue, Seattle, WA 98118; Call or text: 206-200-2733.

KotoJazz 78: Top 10 on Soundclick – Tide Pools & Waves

  • Tide Pools & Waves reached as high as #2 and #4 in the “World” ranking (out of over 80,000 songs) and “New Age” (out of over 13,500 songs) categories over the weekend, respectively. It remained for a week at #26 and #10. Other Koto Jazz tunes reaching the Soundclick.com charts are:
  • Ripples On Creek Rocks in the top 10 of the “Acoustic Piano” category of nearly 9,000 songs.
  • Gratitude in the top 40 of the “Acoustic Piano” category of nearly 9,000 songs.
  • My Sakura reached top 5 and Tori No Yo Ni reached the top 10 for two weeks in the “Traditional Asian” category of 13,500 songs in the World charts.
  • Koto Jazz by Chris Kenji Beer Reaches Top 10 in New Age charts, Top 26 in World charts of over 80,000 musicians!
    Koto Jazz by Chris Kenji Beer’s “Tide Pools & Waves” Reaches Top 10 in New Age charts, top 26 in World charts of over 80,000 songs!
    Koto Jazz by Chris Kenji Beer Reaches Top 10 in New Age charts, Top 26 in World charts of over 80,000 musicians!
    Koto Jazz by Chris Kenji Beer Reaches Top 10 in New Age charts, Top 26 in World charts of over 80,000 songs!
    Ripples on Creek Rocks, Koto Jazz song by Chris Kenji Reaches Top 10 in Acoustic Piano charts.
    Ripples on Creek Rocks, Koto Jazz song by Chris Kenji Reaches Top 10 in Acoustic Piano charts.
    Like A Bird (Tori No Yo Ni), Koto Jazz song by Chris Kenji Reaches Top 10 in Traditional Asian, World charts category.
    Like A Bird (Tori No Yo Ni), Koto Jazz song by Chris Kenji Reaches Top 10 in Traditional Asian, World charts category.

    Koto Jazz 77: Kawabe House Annual Reception

    There are good folks volunteering at the Kawabe Memorial House, a senior center in Seattle. Here are a few pics from the annual reception. There was good food, good company, and I hope everyone enjoyed my music. I played for about a half hour, mostly Koto jazz pieces and their lovely Korean upright piano. Thanks to all the staff and volunteers for your wonderful hospitality.

    kawabe memorial house annual volunteer reception with koto jazz by Chris Kenji.
    kawabe memorial house annual volunteer reception with koto jazz by Chris Kenji.

    <a href="https://kotojazz.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/wp_001032.jpg"><img src="https://kotojazz.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/wp_001032.jpg?w=300" alt="kawabe memorial house annual volunteer reception with koto jazz by Chris Kenji." width="300" height="225" class="size-medium wp-image-2308" /></a> kawabe memorial house annual volunteer reception with koto jazz by Chris Kenji.
    [caption id="attachment_2308" align="alignnone" width="300"]kawabe memorial house annual volunteer reception with koto jazz by Chris Kenji. kawabe memorial house annual volunteer reception with koto jazz by Chris Kenji Beer.

    Koto Jazz 75: @ Stage 7 Pianos, Kirkland

    My first performance was a video recording session thanks to my good friend Ed Yakuzawa of Victory Music. Some of the koto jazz tunes have been uploaded to YouTube. Here are a few:

    1) Tide Pools & Waves (Shiyodamari To Nami)

    2) My Sakura

    Koto Jazz 74: playing @ 101 Public House pub

    Half time playing a piano gig at the pub in South Bend/ Raymond, the oyster capital of the world. And two Koto Jazz fans! This was so much more relaxing than a few weeks ago when I played at the Seattle Center. Ahhh, the taste of the ocean air , a couple koto jazz tunes . . .. and more oysters . …

    KotoJazz 62: Song Stories- Wandering Kabuto Mushi

    “Wandering Kabuto Mushi” is a tune about the wandering rhinoceros beetle, or Kabuto mushi. This Japanese beetle is a prized pet among children who raise them and care for them like pets in Japan.

    One of my most joyful and memorable experiences of childhood was going out beetle and bug hunting with my Uncle Yasushi outside of Omiya. We climbed trees to observe and catch the Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle in the wild. I was 6 or 7 at the time. We would also hunt for and catch other exotic bugs such as stag beetles and “semmi” or cicadas. Different from the cicadas I’ve seen in he States, the Japanese semmi can be a gorgeous aqua green to blue color, or even orange to fiery red. There is an entire mini industry and bug pet raising culture in Japan, especially in the rural communities of Japan.

    This song Wandering Kabuto Mushi is about the slow and steady nature of this prized Japanese pet, like the slow moving but wise tortoise.

    Unfortunately, my vast collection of rhinoceros beetles and other exotic bugs which I had stored at my mother’s place in Boulder was swept away and destroyed by last year’s flood. Some family friends were forced out of their homes, and others lost their lives, so the loss of my skeleton insect relics were small compared to that. Still, I miss them, but this simple song carries on my memories of them.

    This version was recorded live at Egan’s Jam House in Ballard November 21st 2016, and was one of a number of new songs I introduced at the show.