Friday, November 12, 2010

Just keep smiling: Kasukabe Jazz Day, November 6th

Peter Here,

Something to learn in Japan is that, even if you are at death's door with a common cold ('風邪', or 'Kaze'), if you make a commitment to do something then by gum you should do it. This is why, even though my head was full of coldy nonsense, I co-MC'd the Kasukabe Jazz Day on 6th November.

A little background to this situation is that I go to Kasukabe every Thursday to meet some Japanese and Gaijin friends that I've made. This is essentially my Japanese lesson every week, it is in a very relaxed atmosphere and a beer or two helps the language come along nicely. I've even advanced my Kana thanks to these guys! One person that I met of an evening in October was the organiser of the Jazz Day event (Maezawa-sama), and happened to ask whetherI liked Jazz music. As I had just finished a rendition of Frank Sinatra's 'I get a kick out of you' on the Karaoke machine, I said that I loved Jazz music. It was then decided that I would MC this event (maybe nodding and smiling at this point did not help).

I turned up at 10am, to find the park area (Yondaikoen, the 4th park) filled with seats for 1,500 people and a massive stage, accompanied by equipment for recording and live web streaming. I had underestimated the size of this event by some way! Four bands were playing: Swing Bears (スイングベアーズ), BSU Jazz Orchestra (ビッグスイング フェイス・ジャズオーケストラ), Dream Swing Kingdom (ドリーム スイング キングダム), and Crystal Jazz Latino (クリスタルジャズ・ラティーノ).

It was my role, along with my co-
MC (who was dressed in Cosplay to help attract the event) to introduce the bands in English as well as provide a little 'Gaijin genkiness' to the day. As it happened I wasn't doing much talking at all, and was practically wheeled in just to say the name of the band in the perfect English accent. It made me feel a little bit like a token gesture, but it was fun all the same. Furthermore, as my throat was caked in cold I'm not sure how much I would've been able to talk anyway.

The bands were fantastic, with several big numbers that everyone recognised. Stalls of smoking Yakitori (skewered meat), fresh coffee, beers, roasted nuts and soba noodles scented the air with a festival aroma (apparently- my nostrils weren't working), and the trees themselves were exploding in turning leaves ('Koyo'). It was a beautiful day, and even though I felt like dying at times inside, it was hard not to have a smile on my face- especially with so many friendly people about.

After the last band had played their encore and everyone started to leave, I talked to one of the band conductors and Maezawa-sama about the day. As I was nodding and smiling to the conversation (I was understanding it, honest), it was agreed that for the next Jazz Day (April next year), I will actually sing two songs on stage with the band; 'Sinatra's I Get A Kick Out of You', and one other.


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