The Tokyko-Manila Jazz & Arts Festival 2014

The Tokyko-Manila Jazz & Arts Festival 2014

Those seeking nights of swinging, dancing and bebop-hopping need look no further than the Tokyo-Manila Jazz & Arts Festival, which is back in town this month.

The vibrant cross-cultural celebration of music grooves into its third year, more powerful and energetic than ever.

The Festival boasts performances from renowned musicians representing Japan and the Philippines’ jazz worlds, with this year’s lineup including Benisuke Sakai, Tsuyoshi Takayama and Tetsuro Kawashima, as well as Boy Katindig, Noel Cabangon and big band J Phil Connection from across the Pacific.

Echoing among them is the ever-passionate voice of Japan-based Filipino artist Charito, who conceptualized the concert series as a means to unite both countries. “I’ve been blessed to experience jazz transcending borders,” she says. “I strongly believe in collaboration, and this pushed me to initiate this huge project.”

The Festival was first held in Shibuya in 2012, where audiences were graced with music from such world-class talent as Tsuyoshi Yamamoto, Terumasa Hino, Sitti and Mon David—and of course Charito, who performs each year.

“The idea had been in my head for the last five years after seeing how much help is needed to create a better situation for learning musicians, especially in the Philippines,” the crooner tells Metropolis.

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto
(Photo by AIM Images)

“This festival is dedicated to the cultivation of young, talented artists who can take part in performances with professionals. We also hold workshops, initiate music scholarship funds and provide equipment and educational support.”

2013’s jamboree at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila showcased the likes of Makoto Ozone, Kengo Nakamura, Tess Salientes and Jeannie Tiongco—while jazz pianist Yuki Arimasa, who taught at the Berklee College of Music, has collaborated with numerous world-renowned artists and is also performing at this year’s festivities.

“Filipino artists are so musically talented,” gushes Arimasa. “That creates a perfectly wonderful atmosphere for the festival. When different energies of artists are mixed around and stimulate each other, we can find these nerves to be fresh and new in our inner selves. It’s so wonderful for Japanese musicians to be in the international scene, and to receive inspiration that we could not easily find by playing only in Japan.”

Charito adds that Filipinos have a newfound affinity for standard jazz. “We never got to know how jazz grew and progressed to the more contemporary creative side that it is now. But thanks to the recent jazz boom in Asia, more musicians are now trying to find their own sound and originality—and jazz is back and here to stay.”

The Tokyo-Manila Jazz & Arts Festival

OPM and Jazz. Nov 28, 6:30pm, ¥4,500. Shinjuku Ushigome Tansu Civic Hall. Nearest station: Ushi-gome-kagurazaka.

Club Session. Nov 29, 8pm, ¥4,500. Body & Soul. Nearest station: Omotesando. 

TMJAF Workshop for Young Musicians. Nov 30, 1pm. Akasaka Civic Hall. Nearest station: Aoyama-itchome.

Thanksgiving Jazz Concert. Nov 30, 6pm, ¥2,000. Akasaka Civic Hall. Nearest station: Aoyama-itchome.