Beat Communist vol.12: Nakatsuka Takeshi, Iga-Bang BB, P.O.P ORCHeSTRA, Aoki Karen, Rie Fu

Text and photos by Patrick Benny for Tokyo's Coolest Sound

My last show of 2012 was Beat Communist, a regular event organized by Nakatsuka Takeshi every 2 or 3 months at cool jazz lounge JZ Brat located in Cerulian Tower, Shibuya. While having a club-oriented atmosphere, the event is held on a Sunday at a last-train-friendly time.

Aside from resident acts (Nakatsuka Takeshi and twin rappers P.O.P ORCHeSTRA), this time the event also featured big band Iga-Bang BB, jazz singer Aoki Karen and singer-songwriter Rie Fu.

Iga-Bang BB is an instrumental brass big band (hence the "BB") led by trombonist Igarashi Makoto. The band had a total of 18 musicians: 5 trombones, 5 saxophones, 4 trumpets, piano, guitar, bass and drums! They've had 2 singles released on iTunes last year, on Takeshi's digital label ("Bang!" and "Bang! Bang!"), and they played 3 tracks from these singles, as well as title track from album "Smile" (Amazon).

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Set list: Second Line / Brooklyn / Fractale / The Sputnik Sweetheart / Smile

Next up was P.O.P ORCHeSTRA, led by two rapper real twins. I like that they're backed by a real band of piano, flute, guitar, bass and drums that sounds quite Shibuya-kei to my ears. One of their songs borrowed a well known flute loop. Their set ended with the two songs about to be released on iTunes on January 9, "Hard Water" and "". During their set they have a habit of giving 100 yen coins to people close-by, and paying free beers from their pocket money to fans who go talk to them. They're nice guys like that. :)

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The next artist to perform was jazz singer Aoki Karen, who sang jazz standards such as "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" in her characteristic voice my friend described as the Japanese Björk. She was accompanied by a pianist and also saxophonist Ishikawa Shūnosuke, who had already appeared in Iga-Bang BB earlier and was later going to play part of Nakatsuka Takeshi's band. Big night!

青木カレンBeat Communist

The show continued with Rie Fu who appeared on stage alone. She sang her songs accompanied just by herself playing guitar or piano. Her set actually opened with a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". I had always thought this song was originally by Jeff Buckley, who I had seen live back then, so this song makes me feel nostalgic. The rest of the songs were Rie's originals, mainly from her latest album "Bigger Picture" (Amazon). Sorry, I didn't dare taking photos during her quiet set.

Set list: Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover) / Bigger Picture / Untold / gomi / hitotsu hitotsu

The last show was Nakatsuka Takeshi's band, formed of Ishikawa Shūnosuke (saxophone), Ishigaki Kentarō (bass, ex-Qypthone) and Suzuki Kaoru (drums, new member since early 2012). They played a tight set going back and forth real jazz and upbeat club songs.


The best part was of course the encore, which always brings all guests on stage again for a session. Iga-Bang BB, P.O.P ORCHeSTRA, Aoki Karen and Rie Fu joined for a specially arranged medley starting with "Bright Lights, Big City" (a song from album "Kiss & Ride" that originally featured Aoki Karen) and then turning into "kita no kuni kara" (album "Girls & Boys"), a song that most Japanese people know from the TV series of the same name. It had the whole audience singing and waving along.


There were also two big news. Nakatsuka Takeshi has a new album titled "Lyrics" to be released on February 6! And, the next Beat Communist will be a big special event to be held at Shibuya On Air West on June 26.

Also check out my friend Peter's write-up of this event, with some video too. :)

Larger sizes and more photos at Flickr

Live info:
1/11 - Aoki Karen album "Tranquility" (Amazon) release live w/ Ishikawa Shunosuke @ Ebisu Art Café Friends
1/12 - shumusic trio (Ishikawa Shunosuke) @ Shibuya Liaison Café
1/22 - "enoteca" w/ Nakatsuka Takeshi, YMCK, DJ WASA (aka SAWA) @ Ebisu Batica (Facebook event page)
1/30 - Rie Fu "Welcome to at Rie Tour 2013" @ Shibuya WWW
6/23 - "Beat Communist Special" w/ Nakatsuka Takeshi & more @ Shibuya O-West

Iga-Bang BB album "Smile" sampler (Amazon)

P.O.P ORCHeSTRA "Entrance"

Aoki Karen "Voyage"

Rie Fu "Bigger Picture"

Nakatsuka Takeshi "Black Screen"

Tags: AOKI Karen, Iga-Bang BB, NAKATSUKA Takeshi, P.O.P ORCHeSTRA, Rie Fu (click for more info)

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