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 "1.2.3.4". 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!

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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.

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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.

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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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