Category Archives: creativity

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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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.

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 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 69: Yellow Ornamental Grasses

    Probably due to their unique and resplendent colors, I would say there are two top Japanese ornamental grasses that rival each other in popularity – the Japanese red blood grass and Japanese yellow forestgrass.

    Of the two, only one is indispensable to a complete Japanese garden image – the forestgrass. In addition to its bright yellow hue, the Japanese forestgrass displays as a flowing cascading ornament unmatched in the world of grasses.

    Varieties of yellow hairgrass and sedgegrass are more hardy versions. They can be used to accent a garden or garden area with a simple placement in the foreground of any garden area as pictured above.

    Koto Jazz 68: Mini Garden

    Simplicity is my theme here in this basic mini- garden in Boulder, Colorado. A total of only $10 was spent on this serene mini scene. While space is not as much a premium in the vast expand of this globally trend-setting Rocky Mountain city, I still brought my creative miniaturization impulses with me from the Pacific Northwest city life. This mini garden replaced a common area lawn that had completely died away.

    I seek to capture the surrounding area using local assets such a variation of rock and stones, elegant spacing, mini flowering bulbs such as dwarf tulips and mini- daffodils, along with naturally growing ground covers such as violets and forget-me-nots. Being in this semi-arid region that boasts 320-plus days of sunshine a year, it also helps to add a few desertous (new word) plants as accents to the mini garden image. These include a bonsai-style and shaped juniper in the background, and an ornamental grass off to the left.

    I used pinkish- white marble rocks to outline the plants and stones in this mini-garden. I also created a mini dry creek that meanders from one end of the mini-garden to the other to give it a natural flow. Finally, I made a pretty rough but natural lantern out of local stones and a brick. The beauty of mini-gardens is that they fit into spaces of just about any size. 🙂

    Koto Jazz 64: Balance in Japanese Gardens

    Japanese gardens seek to bring out the balance of the natural world. A key intent of Japanese gardens today is to replicate the natural world in smaller spaces; re-creating miniaturized versions of serene natural landscapes. In that re-creation, there are a few principles that bring across that image of balance, such as boundaries and regions that reflect the natural world.

    Boundaries include regions divided by grass areas, or dry gravel areas. These can be divided by pathways, borders, or water. These borders can be rounded or straight edged, but remain consistently one or the other within the same region. These also include water borders, such as waterfalls, dry creek beds, flowing streams, ponds, and lakes.

    A common number to create balance in the garden is the use of threes- three stones or three clumps of grasses. As a general rule, taller trees and plants are placed in the background, while shorter plants such as ornamental grasses and flowering plants are placed in the foreground.

    So long as the plants create a natural flowing space, the garden can be minimalist with very little foliage, or it can be lush with carefully placed grasses and flowering plants and shrubs. Both can be accented with lanterns in the foreground, or off to the side.

    A taller Japanese maple tree is always a good background for either approach, as are tall pogodas.

    Koto Jazz 60: Song Stories – Aki No Hou

    “Aki No Hou”, which means toward the autumn season, is loosely derived by two traditional Japanese Koto pieces – “Midare” (off balance) and “Aki No Koto No Ha” (the sea in springtime). Some of the plucking styles used in “Midare” are used here.

    While my tunes have similar patterns to the “Akin no Koto no Ha”, Aki no Hou takes on a life of its own. Ultimately my creation as the final product has little or no resemblance to these ancient Japanese original works. I wrote “Aki no Hou” in the fall of 2014, inspired by the changing seasons, the energetic dynamics of the autumn; the changing colors of trees and plants, the bustling of wildlife in preparation for winter, and the anticipation of settling into its moments of solitude.