The 2017 Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival (CAAJF) at Elastic Arts

The 2017 Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival (CAAJF)
at Elastic Arts

This critically acclaimed annual event is an essential cornerstone for highlighting and documenting the significant role that Asian Americans and their collaborators have in contributing to the city’s historic and vibrant musical landscape. Come and celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival (CAAJF)   The CAAJF features the finest in contemporary Asian American music. Curated by Asian Improv aRts Midwest, national and internationally acclaimed Asian American artists and their collaborators weave together their collective flair to create an improvisational experience.

All events will be held at:

3429 W Diversey Ave #208
Chicago, IL 60647


9pm / $10

Yoko Noge and Jazz Me Blues

Yoko Noge is an inventive band leader/singer/pianist. Yoko’s band, the Jazz Me Blues melds an incredible mix of Chicago blues, jazz, Japanese music and Yoko’s compositions. The band performed at the Chicago Blues Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Asian American Jazz Festival. She tours in Europe and Japan regularly. She have been chosen as “Chicagoan of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune and “100 Japanese the world respect” by the Newsweek Japan. In 2014, Yoko was awarded the Foreign Minister of Japan’s commendation for “promotion of understanding between Japan and the U.S.A.

ESCP: Chihsuan Yang and Bob Garrett

ESCP is a duo consisting of Chihsuan Yang and Bob Garrett. Together they weave a rich soundscape to engage their audience. Refusing to be confined by professional stigmas or the constructs of composition; ESCP’s sound fuses various mediums of technology, instrumentation, and improvisations, all the while exploring the impact of music as a soundtrack to our lives. Allow yourself to enter a hypnotic state and ESCP.




9pm / $10

Jonathan Chen & Tatsu Aoki

Jonathan Chen & Tatsu Aoki, combine to form their eclectic duo for the opening set of the final day of the CAAJF.

“Asian American Experimentalism” is the event that extrapolates the unique concept experience created during Tatsu Aoki’s collaboration with the Jonathen Chen Orchestra.  It is an electro-acoustic soundscape distilled from the reality of the Asian-American existence.

Composer, improviser, and sound artist, Jonathan Chen, creates work through either conceptual foci or through experimentation with materials. His work for electronics often consist of thick layers of fluctuating sounds produced through multiple feedback systems, and at other times a more simple approach such as his installation Amplified (2010), which only involves the light amplification of a person’s voice. As a violinist and violist his improvisational work often emphasizes timbre rather than pitch, either drawing from a wide palette, or honing in on a single sound. Chen has a PhD in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York; a Master of Arts in Music Composition from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT; and a Master of Music in Violin Performance from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. His work has been published by Leonardo Music Journal (MIT Press), the Deep Listening Institute, Asian Improv Records, Interval, and Striking Mechanism, among others.

Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, as well as a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a filmmaker, and an educator. Born in Tokyo, 1957 into the Toyoakimoto artisan family, a traditional house for training and booking agents for geisha. Aoki was part of his family’s performance crew from the age of four. In the late 1960s, he shifted his energies from the traditional to American pop and experimental music. By the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new Western forms.

In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo and is now one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last thirty-five years. Aoki is the Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival.

Metal Wind Instrumentalists: Mwata Bowden, Ed Wilkerson, Jeff Chan, and Mai Sugimoto

Mwata Bowden has received the Outstanding Artist Service Award for dedication to children through music, recognition in Downbeats magazine’s annual Critic’s Poll from 1990 to 2003, and the 1994 Arts Midwest Jazz Masters Award. His activities in local Jazz and music education include serving on the Board of Directors of the Jazz Institute of Chicago and conducting music residencies for the Chicago Council on Fine Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, Ravinia Music Illumination Program, and Urban Gateways. He served as Chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, (AACM) one of the oldest Black musicians’ collectives in the United States. His Sound Spectrum strives to reflect the energy and musical heritage of Chicago as well as the ongoing legacy of great Black music.

Edward Wilkerson Jr. is an internationally recognized jazz musician, composer, arranger, and educator based in Chicago. As founder and director of the octet 8 Bold Souls and the twenty-five-member ensemble Shadow Vignettes, Wilkerson has toured festivals and concert halls throughout the US, Europe, Japan, and the Middle East.

Jeff Chan is dedicated to advancing the understanding of the Asian American experience through music and has worked with many of the leaders of the Asian American creative music movement.  As a composer, Chan has created works for varied and diverse ensembles, from solo instruments to large ensembles, including a musical score for modern dance company Facing East Dance & Music.

Mai Sugimoto is a Japanese born saxophonist and composer. She performs frequently throughout the Chicagoland area and is a member of Hanami, a quartet that features her original work and arrangements of Japanese music.



8pm / $10

Natsuko Furukawa & Yutaka Umitsuki

New Album “City Of New Orleans” Release show, Chicago

Natsuko Furukawa (piano & vocal) and Yutaka Umitsuki (saxophone) – who are active in the front line in the New Orleans Jazz / Swing dance scenes in Japan and other countries- will be coming to Chicago on their way to New Orleans to introduce their newest album: “City Of New Orleans”.

Natsuko Furukawa is one of the top jazz piano/vocalists in Japan. She started to play piano at the age of 5,and began playing jazz while attending Waseda University. She has gone on tour to New Orleans every year since 1987 to refine her “jazz entertainment skills”.
Her playing style is based on the New Orleans style, and is a mixture of traditional jazz, ragtime, boogie, and gospel. She values a feeling of swing driven by dance and steps and has played with the top Jazz musicians in New Orleans such as, the Rebirth Brass Band, the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Leroy Jones(tp) , Kermit Ruffins (tp) Michael White(cl) John Boutte(vo), Topsy Chapman, and Solid Harmony(vo).

Yutaka Umitsuki is multi lead player, a master of tenor/Alto/Soprano saxophone and clarinet. He started to play saxophone in high school and refined his skills at performances in several live houses.

He joined a lot of jazz units, including one of the top big bands in Japan, “T.Miyama & his Newherd”. He was also invited to play for Japanese Rock Star, Eikichi Yazawa’s 40th years anniversary live.

In Japan, he delivers New Orleans and Swing sounds with his jazz band called “Soul Food Café”, and has appeared in the Shinjuku Traditional Jazz Festival, (one of the biggest traditional jazz festivals in Japan), every year since 2003.