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Japanese Jazz Artist Retraces his Kenyan ‘roots’

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The Return of Shingo – Real Jazz from Tokyo

Forty (40) years after he first performed, while only aged Seven (7), at Kenya National Theatre Japanese jazz drummer, Shingo Okudaira, returned to the same venue for two (2) special homecoming concerts and he did not disappoint.

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The Return of Shingo – Real Jazz from Tokyo. Shingo Okudairo at the Kenya National Theatre where it all began over 40 years ago.

Truly a musical phenomenon, Shingo released his debut album: Maiden Voyage, at the tender age of 11. Then, at the age of 24, he moved to New York to pursue further growth as a jazz musician; and lived there for 19 years, only moving back to Japan in 2010.

Throughout his career, spanning four (4) Decades, Shingo has released six (6) albums: Maiden Voyage (1978), Kilifi (1995), Maconde (1996), Alisema (1998), The Force (2009) and I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (2013).

In this nostalgic concert series dubbed The Return of Shingo – Real Jazz from Tokyo, he also performed at Carnivore Simba Saloon. Shingo & The Force are one of Tokyo’s best Jazz groups but following the Westgate attacks, his main band members—pianist/keys and double bass opted out but their replacement are world class.

Shingo Okudaira, teamed up with Fumio Karashima, who is without doubt one world-renowned and most sought piano/keys player in Asia. Youthful but talented Takashi Sugawa played the Double Bass. These hugely endowed artists featured in the first act that had original numbers written by Shingo and other famous jazz greats like Coltrane etc.

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Maestro Fumio Karashima

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Youthful but immensely talented Takashi Sugawa

In the second act, Shingo teamed up with Kenya’s own – Umoja Calabash Percussions, that also enabled Shingo to play some of his own original numbers that he composed in Kiswahili and performed over a hundred times but never in done by a Swahili speaker and in front of a Swahili-speaking audience.10

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