A quick Q&A with Ken Kawamura

Visiting jazzmen from Japan, keyboardist Ken Kawamura and soprano sax player Jose Terada are in town this weekend for two gigs – Friday 7 at Bouchon and Saturday 8 at LF Social Club, joined by locals Takeshi Yamauchi on guitar, Mary Yamauchi on vocals and Colin Grafton on blues harp, following up successful performances in Phnom Penh last year. Once again Ken will be playing the rare and haunting accordina – a “chromatic harmonicon” – similar to the chromatic button accordion but controlled by breath (like a harmonica) rather than bellows. He has already recorded five albums with the instrument.

Ahead of their arrival Leng Pleng had a few questions for Ken.

What drew you to the accordina? Is it a common instrument in Japan?

After seeing [French accordion player] Richard Galliano playing accordina on YouTube, I bought one from France. I know five or six people playing accordina in Japan, but it is not a famous instrument.

What are your primary musical influences?

My music is based on jazz, especially I’m influenced by Thelonious Monk.

Ken Kawamura.    Photo: supplied

What were your early experiences of music?

I learned classical piano from seven years of age.

Do you have a particular philosophy of jazz?

Jazz – and music in general – should be about freedom in a true sense. I don’t want to play the same thing as yesterday.

Do you have fond memories of your trip to Cambodia last year?

A Khmer musician was playing a sax-like instrument on the street, and my friend Jose borrowed one and made some sessions with him. Jose didn’t know the instrument or Khmer music but he did it!

Jose Terada     Photo: supplied

What is the best thing about touring and playing music? What is the worst?

It’s best when the audiences are enjoying the music along with us. Some audiences talk loud, as if our music is disturbing their talking, and that saddens me.

What is the next project you have planned?

I’m planning to make a sixth album with the accordina.

Japanese Jazz nights at Bouchon on Friday 7 June from 7.30 pm and LF Social Club on Saturday 8 June from 9 pm.

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