It's a Sunny Day

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

Last weekend, on Sunday September 12, I had the chance to go to this very special event. Wack Wack Rhythm Band recently lost one of their important members 6 months ago, percussionist and mood-maker Nozawa Tōru (aka Sunny) who passed away last March. To say goodbye properly, they threw this 6-hour party, titled "It's a Sunny Day", featuring many artists who were all related to Sunny in various ways. At the back of the stage were set Sunny's congas, remaining mostly untouched.

I got there for the second half and first caught Moriwaka Kaori (Go-Bang's). I had seen her on stage a few months ago at Shinohara Tomoe's 15th anniversary event. Sunny often played in her live band. She played guitar accompanied by bass and cajón, and sang a few of her songs including "Heaven" and a song she wrote about Sunny.

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Next up was Bonjour, a band in which Sunny also played percussions, and the first band to be released on his label Fairground Records. Their sound was highly driven by saxophone and trombone, and reminded me of Wack's. All members are truly talented. They said it was the first time they played on stage in 3 years but it didn't feel like that at all. There was a touching moment when a song left room for a percussion solo and leader Nakamoto Kōichirō acted just as if Sunny was playing his congas at the back.

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Next was Central (MySpace), a good salsa band born from Sunny's percussionist connections. The band features guiro, cowbell, saxophones, trombone, conga, piano, bass and drums.

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And last was Wack Wack Rhythm Band! It was actually my first time to see a full show of theirs even though I've been a fan for many years and I love all of their albums. I had just learned that singer Lemon (who I saw singing with Maezono Naoki Group last year) is now a full-time member. Only less than half of Wack's songs are vocal, while the rest are instrumental. During their show were shown photos of Sunny, which often the members would turn around to look at, and between each song they would talk about good memories.

The set started with "Captain Olmeca", performed with a backtrack of Sunny's percussions. The rest of the show was entirely live though. I was really happy to hear so many of their best songs! Throughout the show there were also guest appearances of Trilets (from Dreamlets). At the entrance everyone was given a CD-R of a new song that was written by Sunny last year but had yet to be released, "Steelpan Disco". The band had got around to record it back in February. They played it together with an ex-member who joined on steel drum. The show closed with a moving cover of "Sunny".

Set list: Captain Olmeca / Bermuda Blowback / Saturday Night Flying Booster / Let It Go / Wack Wack Rhythm Island / ? / Ain't Got No (Nina Simone cover) / Steelpan Disco / Apache / Sunny / Encore: Dreams Come Through

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Personally before hearing of the event I didn't really know about Sunny, but this great event did a great job of retelling many bits of his life.

Larger sizes and more photos at Flickr

Tags: Bonjour, Central, Lemon, MORIWAKA Kaori, Wack Wack Rhythm Band (click for more info)

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