Here is a live recording of a tune I first played at Stone Way Café’s Fremont Art Walk on April 1st, then recorded live at The Royal Room on April 13th with Koto Jazz accompaniment by Patrick Wilson on the SyntHorn –
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!!
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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
– 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 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.
“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:
This anniversary party was filled with positive interactions with the attendees between breaks and after my performance. It’s always a wonderful opportunity to meet new people intrigued by and find enjoyment from my music, but on a broader level, Japanese culture. It’s so good to be connected to such a wonderful, kind, generous, forgiving, and loving community in Seattle.
As I played the third song of the night, Tomio Moriguchi, otherwise known as “Mr. Uwajimaya”, came up to me and said he loved the first piece I played, Sakura, and of course I obliged to play it again. A true honor to have known you Tomio through the years, first meeting you in the early 90s karaoking with you and the late Joyce Yoshikawa at Bush Garden, getting caught up at the Bon Odori through the years, your reminders of how much you appreciated my sister Kimberley’s summer JAS programs with your family (yes Kimberley, Tomio asks about you every time!) and now, how could one not play a song for your memory in such a magical setting as Seattle’s Japanese garden! For the person who quite possibly brought more Japanese food and gifts to America than anyone in America! Domo, domo, domo. The people of Seattle’s Japanese Garden, so many of the attendees such as Tomio, The Sasakis (Cherry Blossom Festival and Fujima Fujimine Dance Ensemble) have colored this city of Seattle with the beautiful wonders of Japanese arts and culture for which I am eternally grateful.
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.
When I first returned to Seattle as an adult in 1990 (I was born here), I started playing piano at senior homes, mostly George Winston and Scott Cossu re-runs. Today, I bring my own originals to senior venues as a volunteer to share with fellow Japanese Americans. My hope is they will connect with its Japanese koto music influences and enjoy listening to the tunes I play today.
I will be playing at the Kawabe Memorial House on Friday, June 26th. This event will also be a good warm up along with other volunteer performances for the 55th Anniversary of University of Washington Arboretum’s Japanese Garden celebration on July 24th. I was chosen among numerous applicants to play for this exclusive event.
Having played at the Seattle Center for the 40th Annual Japanese Cultural Festival in April, this has been a year of re-connecting with the Japanese communities in Seattle where I enjoy a solid following. The ”Koto Jazz & 55th Anniversary Event of the UW Arboretum Seattle Japanese Garden“ is “an evening of Japanese Arts and Cuisine to Benefit Seattle Japanese Garden”. The garden becomes the backdrop for an elegant fete of scrumptious Japanese cuisine with fine wines and sake, a Nodate tea ceremony, and traditional performance arts during this 55th anniversary benefit event. All are welcome to attend by contacting Tel: 206.684.4725; seattlejapanesegarden.org.