Yoko Noge’s Japanesque with Dee Alexander

Aug. 30 - 2012

Japanesque with special guest Dee Alexander

When singer-pianist Yoko Noge formed her band Jazz Me Blues in the early ’90s, some people looked upon it as a gimmick. A woman from Osaka, Japan singing and playing Chicago blues? But as spirited an entertainer as Yoko was, there was nothing fake about her  passion for blues and jazz, or her interest in melding American roots music with traditional Japanese sounds including minyo. She was ahead of her time in her embrace of ethnic crossover, and has proved to be one of the most durable attractions on the local scene.

With Japanesque, Noge pushes the one-world-under-a-groove, East-meets-West notion even further. The one-of-a-kind band features Tatsu Aoki (best known as a bassist and co-founder of the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival) on the three-stringed shamisen, Amy Homma on Taiko drums, Mississippi-born Delta blues veteran Jimmy Burns on guitar and vocals, Greg McDaniel on bass and William “Bugs” Cochran on drumson drums – plus, especially for the festival, the sensational Tomeka Reid on cello and the veteran horn section of Jimmy Ellis on alto saxophone and Bill McFarland on trombone. And if that confluence of styles doesn’t strike you as intriguing enough, a sublime X factor will be added to the mix: the incomparable jazz vocals of Dee Alexander, who never met a song she couldn’t transform or a moment she couldn’t possess.

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