Lua Hadar 12/31/11
12/29/11: Wrapped in worries and struggles of producing my most ambitious project yet, today I had an experience that reinforced to me WHY I am doing this. A ‘Bridge’ experience.
I’m having one of several sessions during this season with my Music Director, Dr. Jason Martineau. We’re jamming to get the arrangements ready for our new live recording project, ‘Like A Bridge.’ Today, my friend Fumiko Ozawa, who plays the koto, has come to create, with Jason and myself, our arrangement of the Japanese pop song, Ue o muite aruko, known in the 60’s as Sukiyaki, a food which has nothing to do with the song, but which, for a non-global 60’s world, signified Japan and helped to brand the song to worldwide popularity.
The song was heard during the past year as Japan weathered a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant crisis, on a TV public service commercial featuring many famous Japanese singers, encouraging Japan to ‘walk with its head held high’ through the crisis. Deeply concerned for my friends in Japan, I decided to learn it. Jason and I performed it in a salon concert last June, and it received the stamp of approval from my friends Yoshiko and Russell, as well as the rest of the audience. I determined to record it, and dreamt of having Fumiko, who also made her koto debut at the Herbst Theater in this past year, to play on it.
She arrives today at Jason’s studio with her 6-foot koto, a long wooden traditional Japanese 13-stringed instrument played with the hands and picks worn on the fingers. She brings with her the koto version of the music for the song, which had to be mailed to us all the way from Japan. The song is so global it was hard to find in koto music literature, but you have to love the Internet for that.
Jason is not called Dr. J for nothing. He has a wide knowledge of world music styles and even speaks a little Japanese. We set up the koto and then Jason set about educating himself as to how the koto was tuned, how to change the tuning to the key we sing the song in (Gakujoshi tuning works for the western key of C, I learned), what kinds of stylistic language was available to us, what the terminology is in Japanese. Within 3 hours we have worked Fumiko into the arrangement, created a special part and sheet music for the piece and created an audio practice track. It was amazing and inspiring to watch Dr. J at work.
I sat by taking photos and video, singing the lyrics when needed and marveling at how, every day, each of us has the opportunity to be a Bridge, in some way, to some one. A few days ago, Jason’s Bridge, his cultural sensitivity reinforced by his knowledge, talent and skill, allowed me to connect musically with my friend Fumiko, on a new level, bringing her into our band as a musician. His Bridge allowed me to know more about her music than I knew before. All three of us were enriched by the experience. We hope that the audience will be enriched as well.
Being a Bridge is my theme for 2012 and for our new audio and video recording project, ‘Like A Bridge,’ which uses the Bridge as a metaphor for the connections we can make to each other to foster world unity and harmony. Each song represents a part of that Bridge, either because of its language or because of its message, such as Bridge Over Troubled Water, which we will twist with a world beat.
The instrumentation is:
Core band: vocals, piano, bass, drums, global percussion, reeds
Specialty instruments: cello, koto, jazz accordion, and a small Zulu Choir.
We will record on February 18 and 19th, here in the Bay Area.
The CD will be released on April 14th at an East 52nd street jazz club in Manhattan which has a sister club in Tokyo.
The Bay Area release will be in late May/June.
Stay tuned because we’re getting ready to rock.
2012, come on in!!