By Hirose/ Jazz Life Staff Writer

Photo by Jazz Life


Art Blakey's daughter gave him a gig to play in the subway

Hirose--There are four original compositions on this album. Did you compose these pieces for this album?

Tokunaga--Not realy. I have started composing most of all pieces way before this CD project. So there are many memories on each composition.

Hirose--Please descrive us the work you have done.

Tokunaga--I went to New York on 1985 when I was nineteen years old. I was in New York University which is located in Manhhattan. I was taking an ESL (English as secound laungage) class.There is also a music departmnet, and I had a chance to take a jazz ensemble class held by Joe Lovano(sax). At the same time, I started working as a bus boy at the club called Seventh Avenue South. I noticed on Jazz Life Magazine on 1985 October or November issue, somebody wrote about me because I was working at the club. Soon or later I stopped going ESL class because it was hard to work in night shift and going morning classes.

Hirose--How did you start getting to play with musicians in NY ?

Tokunaga--At first I went many jam sessions. The musicians I met at those jam sessions started giving me a small gigs. Oneday I was working at 55 Bar on Christpher Street, singer Evelyn Blakey stopped by and ask if I was available to perform the following day. I asked her " Where is it?" , She said, "Cafe Subway". Later that night that I found out that was really in the subway, and I was so surprised. But once I went the place, I had opportunity to play with musicians like Cindy Blackman (drums) and Leon Parker (drums), I lerned so much from those subway musicians. I did this subway gigs for three years and started playing in the restaurants and club more frequently. These are my little New York music snenes. On 1990 I married in New York, and my wife was a sound editor on movies. Because of her carrer, we decided to move Los Angeles.

To Be Continued----

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