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The trio has been blessed this summer with an unusual plethora of playing opportunities. One of the side effects of that is we are sounding pretty kick-ass as of late, which is a good thing as we plan our debut recording next month. All the new material is starting to click and I think we’re starting to enter into a new chapter of ensemble playing that has come a long way since our jam session house band days. We’re back at Cafe Metropol this Friday for what is probably our last public performance until the Asian American Music Festival in October. If you haven’t seen us yet this is as good a time as any to check it out.
Gary Fukushima Trio @ Cafe Metropol
Friday, September 3 8:30-10:30pm
923 Third Street, Los Angeles CA 90013 www.cafemetropol.com
Gary Fukushima – piano, Miles Senzaki – drums, JP Maramba – bass
Tuesday was Jesslyn’s 1st birthday. For her birthday I got her a flat screen TV. We actually needed to get the TV because our old one will no longer fit in our living room once my birthday present arrives, in the form of a grand piano that will also be every other present we will be getting for me the rest of my life. Pika and I are a week apart, and we’re feeling very celebratory. The only thing that could make this week any better is if you come out to my birthday gig at the Blue Whale on Saturday and wish me a happy birthday. But please, no presents. With the baby last year and the piano this year I’ve gotten the two best birthday presents I could ever hope for.
…yeah ok, the TV is nice too, but that belongs to Pika.
By the way, I’m also playing with saxophonist and good friend Tony White on Friday at the Left Coast Wine Bar. Birthday wishes will be accepted there as well.
Thanks to those of you who came out last weekend to see our trio show at Cafe Metropol. For a last minute booking, we actually brought in quite a few folks, and the owners were happy with both the music and the turnout. I’m very excited to be doing more shows with Miles and JP this summer, and we hope to keep it rolling!
A few shows of note this week:
On Wednesday I’ll be at the Left Coast Wine Bar and Gallery with reedman Tony White. Tony and I have been playing here for a number of months now and we’re developing a nice rapport and repertoire. The LCWB&G has an upstairs loft with a nice piano and very soft couches, perfect for intimate wine drinking and snuggling, if you’re into that sort of thing.
On Saturday I’m at Cafe 322 with my longtime collaborator Roger Cairns, to celebrate the release of our new CD The Dream of Olwen, a project that features just the two of us, an all ballads album that includes some little-known gems along with a few pieces that are more familliar. It was quite a challenge for me to prepare the arrangements and provide for Roger a capable accompaniment all by my lonesome, but the project was very rewarding and I learned a lot about myself in the process. At 322 we’ll be doing a lot of those duo tracks as well as some of Roger’s regular fare with rhythm section and saxophone.
The weekend ends for me with another trio concert, on Sunday afternoon in the courtyard behind Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena, as part of the Pasadena Playhouse District Jazz Summer Concert Series. The Playhouse District is in its 7th year of hosting this free concert series and I’m honored to be included on their roster of esteemed performers. Once again, Miles and JP are my loyal sidekicks on this. We’ll be doing music by Vernon Duke, Leonard Bernstein, Stevie Wonder, Gary Fukushima, and of course Fiona Apple. I am also bringing out for the occasion one of my most prized posessions, a Wurlitzer 140B electric piano which is sounding all kinds of awesome after I had a miraculous epiphany on what was ailing my precious for so many years.
Anyway, another week of interesting music to be made. Not a bad summer if I do say so myself.
Cafe Metrople is a 1937 film about a Paris nightclub of the same name. The owner of the club in order to avoid being sent to jail for embezzlement cooks up an elaborate scheme to conscript an equally unscrupulous but much younger and handsomer gentleman to woo a rich American girl and get her money by impersonating a rich Russian prince.
Sound preposterous? It’s as feasible as trying to fill a small room in downtown Los Angeles with avid fans of jazz piano trio music with three days notice, thanks to a last minute cancellation. But if those crazy guys in Cafe Metropole the movie can pull off their improbable stunt than I have hope for a another miracle at Cafe Metropol of Los Angeles. In the land of Hollywood you must believe in happy endings.
Gary Fukushima Trio @ Cafe Metropol
Friday, July 30 8:30pm
923 East 3rd Street Los Angeles, CA 90013
Gary Fukushima piano,
JP Maramba bass,
Miles Senzaki drums
p.s. it’s already a miracle that all three of us were able to make this
date on such sort notice. Come be a part of the magic!
The Blue Whale is the rarest of creatures. This creature is so rare you may only find a handful of them throughout the world, and if you come across one of them by accident consider yourself lucky. Some of them are very old and bear the scars of years and wisdom. They need a very particular set of conditions to survive and without those factors they might indeed find themselves washed out on a shore of lost hope. Many other creatures try to emulate the Blue Whale but they cannot, being either too clueless or too inexperienced or too callous to fully understand what they need to do to survive and thrive. The Blue Whale is full of hope and love. The Blue Whale cares about beauty in the world. The Blue Whale is your friend.
The Blue Whale is the rarest of creatures, and in this case that creature can also be called A Great Jazz Club.
I did a not-as-poetic write-up on the Blue Whale on lajazzcollective.com, which you can check out here.
Official festival post here.
All About Jazz story here.
If you don’t want to click on any of those links then I hate you but in a nutshell it’s a two-night festival this weekend featuing four different groups each night. I’m playing on Saturday night for the 11pm set with the band III, which features Walter Smith III on tenor sax, myself on piano, Dan Schnelle on drums, and Dave Robaire on bass. Brian Swartz will play trumpet on a few tracks as well. Walter is awesome, he tours the world, plays regularly with guys like Christian McBride, Terrence Blanchard, Jason Moran, et al. and his playing and writing is exceptional. I’m actually a little scared…
But seriously, for $10 a night you get to listen so some of the most dynamic players in town. There’s some really good piano and guitar and organ trios, a solo set that’s bound to be life-changing by keyboard wizard Adam Benjamin, and a nine-piece ensemble to close the festival.
It’s been awhile since the LAJC did a two-day event like this one, and to do it at the Blue Whale makes this perhaps the most anticipated festival since our first one.
Some interesting shows happening this weekend:
On Friday, I’ll be joining the Tina Raymond Trio at First and Hope Supper Club in downtown Los Angeles. Tina, an excellent young drummer, is from my alma mater CalArts, as are her two bandmates, bassist Emilio Terranova and guitarist Tim Fischer. First and Hope is a brand new place with this classic looking back room, harkening back to fonder days. Also, the food is amazing here.
Saturday I’ll be at Columbo’s in Eagle Rock with the Tony White Quintet. I live in Eagle Rock, and it’s cool to actually play at a place that you could walk to, although I don’t think I will. If you haven’t been, Columbo’s is one of those old time Italian steakhouses where you can still see a lot of old Italians. Apparently Eagle Rock was at one time home to a sizable Italian American community. Tony is a soulful, spirited saxophonist, and he knows how to have a good time on stage, so it will be fun times indeed.
On Sunday the Tony White Quintet rolls on down the 110 Freeway to San Pedro and Rosalie and Alva’s Performance Gallery, a cool state of the art listening room with some incredible pianos to choose from, which is cool for me I guess. This will be a fun show ’cause we have my musical brothers Miles Senzaki on drums and JP Maramba on bass, as well as old friend Yu Ooka on guitar. It’s a family-friendly afternoon show, so if you live in the South Bay (this means you, cousins and Aunties and Uncles) it would be great to see you.
Click on any of the gig listings to the right for more info.
Last (and best), here’s your gratuitous baby pick of the week:
Jesslyn will be at the Sunday show. I’m just sayin’…
GF3 makes its second appearance at this wonderful jazz club. I’m excited for this gig, due to the fact that the Blue Whale recently got a brand new Yamaha grand piano, and because I’ve written a few new pieces that will be debuting on Saturday.
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St Ste 301 Los Angeles, CA 90012
Saturday, June 5 9pm-12am
Gary Fukushima, piano
Miles Senzaki, drums
JP Maramba, bass
Validated parking in the underground garage on 2nd Street