In Japan, the autumn is known as a time to enjoy the arts. And what better an art than jazz is there for everyone to see and listen in Osaka, the birthplace of jazz in Japan. Autumn is a time of year when many jazz festivals take place throughout Japan, and Osaka has its share, of course.

Lawson Presents OSAKA Jazz 2014 was a weeklong jazz festival in early September. The third year for this showcase of various types of jazz, performers were on loan from TOKYO Jazz 2014, a sister festival that took place afterwards. Headliners included Herbie Hancock, Fourplay, the Benny Golson Legend Quartet, Takuya Kuroda, Hiromi Uehara and Chaka Khan.

Herbie Hancock, making his second visit to Osaka since International Jazz Day in April, kicked off the festival with an electrifying quartet featuring Lionel Loueke on guitar, James Genus on bass and drummer Vinnie Coliauta. The ever-evolving Hancock presented a fine evening that focused on his electric-based sounds of the late 1970s and 1980s. Using a grand piano to introduce the melodies of his earlier compositions, the quartet transformed them into lush, electrified versions. When it played his Headhunters-era and rock-jazz compositions including Rock It, the band produced richly layered sounds that pleased fans of this portion of his career, but left fans who preferred his earlier acoustic piano recordings (Maiden Voyage, etc.) sort of in the dark. The highlight of the night was Lionel Loueke, who exhibited his sensitivity and musical mastery during a solo performance featuring loops produced both vocally and on the guitar.

Another memorable night during the festival was a triple-header. After Dutch singer-songwriter Wouter Hamel played a quick set of his pop-infused jazz (or maybe jazz-infused pop), Erena Terakubo led a quartet in a set of standard numbers and one original composition. Although still attending Berklee College of Music, the young alto sax player exhibited fine control of her instrument and a relaxed style expected of musicians much her senior. The final portion of the night was a set of senior jazzmen. Fronted by Benny Golson, the Legend Quartet played a high-quality set centering on a few of the fine compositions the 85-year old Golson contributed to modern jazz. Not only was audience thrilled each time Golson’s deep-toned tenor sax played one of his familiar melodies, it was treated to fine improvisations from the rhythm section, which consisted of Kenny Barron on piano, bassist Ron Carter and Lenny White on drums.

Closing out Lawson Presents OSAKA Jazz 2014 was Hiromi Uehara The Trio Project. The first time for her current trio to perform it latest album in Osaka, the audience was treated to an evening of hard-driving jazz Uehara-style. Assisting her in performing her original compositions were Anthony Jackson on the bass guitar and progressive rock-influenced drummer Simon Phillips. Their multi-layered sounds, which resonated throughout the concert hall, were a fine contrast to the retrospective solo performance of Thomas Ehnco, a young and upcoming French pianist who had just signed with Universal France. Look forward to his major debut album within the next few months.

先ずは、9月上旬の一週間に行われ、3回目の「ローソン・プレゼンツ大阪ジャズ2014」。姉妹フェスティバルである「東京JAZZ 2014」にも出演したハービー・ハンコック、フォープレイ、ベニー・ゴルソン・レジェンド・カルテット、黒田拓也、上原ひろみやシャカ・カーンは森ノ宮ピロティホールに出演した。



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