An Interview With Oriental Shuffle
Django Festival Tokyo 2017

September 24, 2017
 
Guitars and violins are without doubt the most eye-catching instruments in the Django festival Tokyo. It seems that bassists are being less noticed, but to our surprise, we met a brilliant and outstanding female bassist, who is also a member of the music group “Oriental Shuffle”. Here’s our interview.
 
> 王慧思Eliza Wong),  Chris Lui
 

JazzEspresso - (JE)
Ibuki Sakano (Solo guitar) – (IS)
Yoshihiko Miyazaki (Clarinet) – (YM)
Nicolas Carre (Rhythm guitar) – (NC)
Kumiko Imakyurei (Bass) – (KI)
 
Why did you name your group “Oriental Shuffle” ?
IS:At the time when we formed our band, we thought that the famous song of Django “Oriental Shuffle” was quite suitable for us, for we are a combination of French and Japanese musicians, and the way we manage our group is quite different from the others. We don’t actually have a band leader. As denoted in the name “shuffle", each one of us is the person in charge for a certain period of time, then the duty is shuffled off and given to the next person for the next time.
 
Please introduce yourself. How did you start to play gypsy jazz?
IS: I am Ibuki Sakano. I started playing guitar when I was 16. At first, I played pop and rock music. Later on, I was inspired by the movie “Swing” and by some gypsy jazz albums. From then on, I've been only playing gypsy jazz.
YM:My name is Yoshihiko Miyazaki, I studied modern jazz when I was a college student. I’ve always loved the music of  jazz clarinetist Ken Peplowski. During his artistic life, he released only one gypsy jazz album. It’s all because of his song “Minor Swing” that I fell in love with gypsy jazz.
NC: I am Nicolas Carre. I have to confess that in the beginning I did’t like gypsy jazz, I didn’t understand it. I only used to play bebop style jazz music. Then one day a very good friend of mine asked me to join him in a jam session playing gypsy jazz. And little by little I fell in love with it and found out that gypsy jazz is entertaining and fun, full of complexities yet not difficult to understand. I would say it’s the kind of music that you can play everywhere.
KI: I am bassist Kumiko Imakyurei. I studied modern jazz too. I have been loving gypsy jazz since 2004. Unfortunately, at that time, I couldn’t find a suitable gypsy guitar or any relevant information about gypsy jazz, so I tried to play gypsy jazz by using an acoustic guitar, though I still couldn’t get hold of it. It was not until 2009 that I finally found the right guitar for me. Since then, I put all my passion into playing gypsy jazz. The movie “Sweet and lowdown”, directed by Woody Allen, also had great influence on me at the time.
 
 
Nicolas, being a French musician, what do you think of the development of gypsy jazz in Japan ?
NC:In Japan, standard jazz is still the mainstream music and being viewed positively and seriously by the public, as far as jazz is concerned. Gypsy jazz, on the contrary, is only a niche market at the moment. After all, the history of gypsy jazz is relatively short in the entire history of music. But it surprises me that here in Japan so many people like gypsy jazz. Out of curiosity?  I guess.
 
Kumiko, I know that you have participated to many gypsy jazz festivals in France and other countries: which festival is the most remarkable of all?
KI:I’ll say that Festival Django Reinhardt at Samois-sur-Seine is surely the best. I was invited to the Gypsy Jazz Festival in Taiwan in January this year, I got the chance to play with the well-known gypsy jazz guitarist Dennis Chang. Speaking from this experience, I think the Gypsy Jazz Festival in Taiwan is well organized. As far as gypsy jazz development in Japan is concerned, even French musicians are amazed and curious about the popularity of gypsy jazz in Japan, because the gypsy jazz community in France is getting smaller. And in many areas in Asia, only small amount of people are interested in playing gypsy jazz. But only in Japan the number of gypsy jazz players is increasing. For those who have only limited budget, but want to experience the atmosphere of gypsy jazz festival, I would suggest to go to the Gypsy Jazz Festival in Taiwan in March next year. Many world famous gypsy jazz players in Europe and Asia will also participate.
 
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