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Friday, May 5, 2006



New York-Tokyo Connection

Since Dave Pietro first came to Japan with the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra as lead alto saxophonist in 1994, he has toured Japan almost every year. First he returned with Akiyoshi's Orchestra. Then, with old friend, pianist and Tokyo resident Jonathan Katz, he formed the New York Tokyo Connection. These two, together with two of the best players in Tokyo, bassist Daiki Yasukagawa and drummer Yoshihito Eto, have taken their hard-driving, no-nonsense sound to packed clubs around Japan each year since. The quartet will tour Japan for two weeks in May.

Pietro's big band work, together with his experience as leader, blend with Katz's local following (leading his own trio and with the popular jazz-meets-world group Candela) for potent live performances. Fortunately, they captured it on the wonderful "NYTC, Live in Tokyo," released last month.

Serious groups are all about chemistry, and NYTC has the combustible kind, with Pietro's and Katz's American instincts connecting tightly with the musical savvy of Eto and Yasukagawa. The quartet digs into Thelonius Monk or their own originals with zest and originality.

The intensity of these musicians shows just why New York and Tokyo connect so well.

The New York-Tokyo Connection plays: May 12 at Cafe Dolce, Urawa, (048) 861-1755; May 13 at Sakuranbo, Shibasaki, (0424) 88-0626; May 15 at Cocktail Kubota, Nagaoka, (025)836-3055); May 16 at Studio Wuu, Kashiwa, (04)7164-9651; May 17 at NHK FM Session 505 Live Taping (invitation only); May 18 at Tokushima Swing (088) 622-9669; May 19 at Takamatsu Live Cafe Speak Low; May 21 Sometime, Kichijoji, (0422) 21-6336; May 22 at Matsubokkuri, Utsunomiya, (Pietro-Katz duo).

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