Maezono Naoki Group in-store at Tower Records Shinjuku

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

前園直樹グループOn Monday July 11 was held an in-store event at Tower Records Shinjuku with Maezono Naoki Group in promotion of 2nd album "tooku e." (translates to "To far away") released in May on CD and vinyl.

As the name says, the band features singer Maezono Naoki, and also Konishi Yasuharu who is the pianist. Konishi-san also takes the role of arranger, as all of the repertory so far consists of covers. Until last year this was a 3-piece band, together with Hatachi Mitsutaka on wood bass, but this new album also features trumpeter Orita Yūsuke (member of jazz band TRI4TH) and drummer Ariizumi Hajime.

The stage at Tower Records is really quite small, yet they managed to fit a real piano (upright), drums and all musicians on there. The show started with only 4 of them, without Konishi, as they opened with "nora neko" from the album. Then Maezono announced that was all for the 4-piece and called Konishi who came to sit at the piano.

They continued with the slow "tooku e ikitai" (see video below), and then "natsu nan desu", a cover of Happy End that's rearranged sounding much more lively. Trumpet really takes an important place in these songs and it was great to hear them live. Next was "kimi o nosete", a cover of Sawada Kenji (male singer whose nickname is Julie)'s solo debut single. As the song came close to the end, Maezono acted like a pop star shaking hands with the front row of the audience. Konishi commented "Julie hates this song. I love it!"

Then came a treat to the Pizzicatomania that made a large part of the audience, Konishi got everyone to clap along to Pizzicato Five's "To our children's children's children", as he played piano while singing chorus. They had already played 5 songs and talked a bit, making up the usual quota of in-store mini live shows, but they asked the audience what song they'd like to hear last. Someone suggested "suki nan dakara" (from first album "hi o tsukeru."), the members briefly looked for the sheets in their respective folders and played the requested song, Konishi again singing back vocals.

Set list: nora neko / tooku e ikitai / natsu nan desu / kimi o nosete / kodomotachi no kodomotachi no kodomotachi e (To our children's children's children) / suki nan dakara

Maezono Naoki Group can be seen live this weekend at Mona Records (Shimokitazawa) on Sunday July 17. Other artists featured are Monsieur Kamayatsu, female singer-songwriter Terao Saho and folk band Po no ichizoku. Details here.

"tooku e ikitai"

Larger size photo at Flickr

Tags: KONISHI Yasuharu, MAEZONO Naoki Group (click for more info)

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