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Friday, Sept. 29, 2006
The 2006 Yokohama Jazz Promenade
Whether or not Yokohama is, as it's claimed to be, the hometown of jazz in Japan, the port city definitely puts on the best festival in the country. The 2006 Yokohama Jazz Promenade kicks off this year at noon on Oct. 7 with a bigger and broader lineup than ever before. For two days next weekend at 11 large halls and 27 small clubs, not to mention restaurants, bars and streetside jams, Yokohama gives itself up entirely to jazz.
Virtually every professional jazz musician in Tokyo and Yokohama plays the festival, along with lesser-known groups from outside the Kanto region, and this ensures that the festival covers a lot of musical territory and styles. One hall or club might offer free jazz, bebop, jazz with strings and Latin bands all in succession. And if you wander from place to place, in the spirit of the Promenade, you're likely to hear an even more diverse selection.
This year, several groups from Holland will offer an up-close look at another jazz-loving country, while foreign musicians from all over the world hook up with local friends for multinational ensembles. With some 200 performances over the weekend, it's tough to recommend one, or even a couple, and part of the pleasure of the Promenade anyway is hearing new and unexpected music. As you wander, college and amateur bands serenade the sidewalks, restaurants and stations.
Of course, this is what metropolitan arts foundations are ideally supposed to do, but Yokohama, which has been at this since 1993, has it down. Maps, arrows and genuinely friendly helpers keep you moving around the city with ease. Seats can be scarce for popular musicians, but then again, there's always another band playing around the corner.
The 2006 Yokohama Jazz Promenade runs Oct. 7 and 8. A pass allowing entry to every venue costs 4,000 yen for a single or 7,000 yen for a pair, both in advance. The halls and clubs are mostly in the area between Sakuragicho and Kannai stations and Yokohama Bay. Schedules, maps and details are available online at www.jazzpro.jp. For more information, call (045) 682-2015.