Jazz Friday: The Blue Note Tokyo All-Star Jazz Orchestra

Lately I’ve been on a kick with YouTube watching international jazz. Specifically, how the art form has evolved in other countries. One sub-genre of jazz is the big band. Big-band music was a big deal back in the swing era, but it’s hard to make a big band work these days. It’s usually 17 (or more) players, and there isn’t enough of a market for jazz for a big band to keep its members fed.

There is a Blue Note jazz club in Tokyo, and they have a house big band called the “Blue Note Tokyo All-Star Jazz Orchestra”, which is excellent. Remarkably, they have no albums on Apple Music, but there are several videos on YouTube. One of my favorite things about the band is its director Eric Miyashiro. He clearly loves both his job and jazz music. Part of me thinks Miyashiro must walk around Tokyo and everyone says, “Hey! It’s jazz-guy Eric.” At least that’s my head canon. If I can ever get my way to Tokyo, I fully intend to make my way to the Blue Note and, hopefully, meet Eric Miyashiro.

They have lots of songs on YouTube, but I’ve picked the video below, which isn’t as much straight ahead jazz, but it does a great job of featuring more of the band members with solos. I would also note that one of the nice things about jazz migrating to foreign countries is that they will have their own take on the music, and this is a good example. They have a YouTube channel with a lot more music.