The Blue Note Jazz Club has been well-known worldwide. In the late ’80s a few American business ‘pioneers’ decided to travel to Japan in order to bring the spirit of the Blue Note’s jazz to Eastern Asia. Two Blue Note Jazz Clubs were born: one in the metropolitan city and economical heart of the country, Tokyo, and the second in Nagoya, the third largest Japanese city and full of cultural traditions. For over two decades international jazz men and women have performed there, making both venues the meeting points for jazz musicians and fans from all over Asia and beyond.
Funded in ’88 by two wealthy New York sisters, the Blue Note Tokyo is considered the best venue for live jazz in the whole Tokyo region. Located in the Aoyama area – only a few hundred meters from the Aoyama Gakuin University – the club seats about 300 people. Over the years it has hosted performances by international jazz musicians such as Sarah Vaughn, Chick Corea, the Jim Hall Quartet, the Kyle Eastwood band and many others. Japanese-American pianist and NEA Jazz Master in 2007, Toshiko Akiyoshi has released several albums of live recordings including Last Live in Blue Note Tokyo and Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio Live at the Blue Note Tokyo ’97. Booker T. & the M.G.’s bassist and Stax Records session man Donald “Duck” Dunn died in his sleep at the Blue Note hotel after a musical marathon of 5 double shows.
The second of the Blue Notes, Blue Note Nagoya, located in the historical Chubu region, has been carrying the torch of jazz into the hearts of Japanese people since its opening. Following the philosophy of NYC’s Blue Note, it has promoted, showcased and spread jazz music all over the country. A high-end jazz venue, similar in stature to the Tokyo club, it has hosted concerts by several critically acclaimed jazz stars. A house of jazz in central Japan, classy drinks and high quality menus, the Blue Note in Nagoya has become one of Asia’s most popular and most visited live music venues.
Alongside the Blue Note in Milano in Italy, the Blue Note Tokyo and Nagoya have taken the original NYC clubs passion, commitment to jazz and have hosted numerous sell out performances that have been very positively reviewed, by local and international press. Nagoya or Tokyo, Tokyo or Nagoya? Each club has it peculiarities, but both achieve their main goal in a marvelous way: to bring great live jazz music to fans. Easy to say, not so easy to do in practice.
The Blue Note has become the name, the brand, of what is considered one of the world’s top jazz venues. USA, Europe and Asia: there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Blue Note spirit in three different continents!
[Picture credits: Blue Note Tokyo]