An interview with the Japanese violinist Sotaro Kitatoko(北床宗太郎)
Django Festival Tokyo 2017

We are very honored to have had the opportunity to interview the Japanese violinist 
Sotaro Kitatoko(北床宗太郎)。
> 王慧思Eliza Wong),  Chris Lui

It’s been 20 years since the great violinist Stéphane Grappelli passed away. As a violinist,  among those masterpieces of the master, which one is your favorite? Who inspired you most?
My favorite song is “Night and Day”. Besides Stéphane Grappelli, I was also deeply inspired by Tim Kliphuis and Christian Howes. I started to learn the classical violin when I was an elementary school student. It was not until 17 years ago that I decided to  study jazz violin.


In Asia, gypsy jazz violinists are a minority compared to the gypsy jazz guitarists. In your opinion, when it comes to study, what’s the biggest challenge for a violinist ? Many people are afraid of improvisation, they just don’t know where to start, can you share with us some of your learning tips ?
It’s a very fundamental thing to understand the traditional music in order to learn the techniques you need. Then, if you want to learn how to improvise, start with something simple, like “Fly Me To The Moon” for instance, as everybody is familiar with the melody of this song. You can begin to play the song in the key of C major,  just try to change the melody freely, then you can gradually proceed to practice the chord progressions.
For the beginners that are interested in learning gypsy jazz violin, where can they find a place to learn this genre of music in Japan?
Jazz Violin Direction Japan is a group that I created to provide online lessons for string instruments players  (violin, viola, cello, contrabass). There you can learn jazz music and how to improvise on your instrument. We also have jam sessions all around Japan on a regular basis. It’s also part of our program to incorporate international musicians to exchange their experiences with our students. For example, we’ve been working closely together with Tim Kliphuis who also has online courses taught in English on our website. Many young people contacted me by internet. It has also come to my notice that some musicians that didn’t  have previous knowledge of Gypsy jazz came to the Django Festival Tokyo. So I think the gypsy jazz community is prosperously growing.
What’s your most recent achievements? 
Actually , I just released my first gypsy jazz album. This time, I worked with the French guitarist Bruno Gil who now lives in Japan, the bassist Toshiya Nishimura, and the composer Ken Kawamura who also plays a very special kind of instrument called “Accordina”. We reinterpreted  several classic songs, and the album cover was shot in a very famous and historical mansion which is located in Matsudo City in Chiba Prefecture. This mansion (TOJO-TEI HOUSE 戸定邸), originally built by the Tokugawa family who once governed Japan in the past, is a  valuable cultural property. The place where we stood on is exactly the same place that music was played by musicians of different generations. We’re really honored to have the chance to shoot our album cover there, it has the meaning that the origin of our music is derived from the classic, and with the newly added elements from the modern society, we pass on our tradition to the next generation.

Reservados todos los derechos – All rights reserved – 版權所有 – 版权所有;  An interview with the Japanese violinist Sotaro Kitatoko(北床宗太郎)Django Festival Tokyo 2017 copyright Jazzespresso 2017.
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