APEX Express

APEX Express – May 10, 2012

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 On this episode of week 2 of KPFA’s fund drive (1-800-HEY-KPFA, 1-510-848-5732):


Anthony Brown (photo courtesy of Kathy Sloane, copyright)


We take a look and a journey exploring the Asian American Jazz movement with two major figures in the scene, Anthony Brown and Mark Izu.

Percussionist, composer, ethnomusicologist, educator and Smithsonian Associate Scholar Dr. Anthony Brown is a seminal figure in the contemporary California creative music scene, directing the Asian American Orchestra in addition to performing with some of the foremost musicians in jazz today.

In 1997, the Asian American Jazz Orchestra was founded under Brown’s artistic direction for a federally-funded national educational touring project about the Japanese American internment experience of World War II. After the project ended in 1998, Brown expanded the group and renamed it Anthony Brown’s Asian American Orchestra, in keeping with the traditions of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, and Machito and his Afro Cubans. The Orchestra has been featured at the Monterey, San Francisco and Chicago Jazz Festivals, the San Francisco Asian American Jazz Festival, the Earshot Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, and numerous universities and concert halls nationally.



Mark Izu (photo courtesy of artist)


Mark Izu, known for his integration of jazz with global modalities and instrumentation, composes for orchestra, jazz ensemble, film, theater and dance; plays contra bass, the sheng (Chinese traditional multi-reed instrument) and the sho (Japanese tradition multi-reed instrument). The only symphonic sho composer in the world, Izu premiered Mermaid, an orchestral work for Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony. In 2005, he wrote the sho solo for, The Manzanar Project, also with Nagano. He received a 2009 Emmy for Bolinao 52, a documentary about the Vietnamese boat people. Izu’s odyssey began in 1976 with Japanese Imperial court master musician, Suenobu Togi, and continued until Togi’s death over 30 years later. Izu’s CD, Threading Time features the final recording of Togi Suenobu with Zakir Hussain (tabla), and was released in Tokyo. It received Tokyo’s Critic’s Choice for Top 10 jazz releases of 2008. Izu’s film scores include Academy Award-winning Days of Waiting; Emmy; Award winning, Return to the Valley; and a new score for silent masterpiece, Dragon Painter. His theater scores were performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Sundance Festival. He was awarded a Dramalogue Award and two INDIE Awards for composition. Izu has received three Meet the Composer Commissions, a Japan/US Creative Artist Fellowship, and an ASCAP Award. Izu is a founding faculty member of Stanford University’s Institute of Diversity in the Arts. He lives with his family in San Francisco.


Anthony Brown and Mark Izu will be in studio to talk about their longtime work, love, way of life: Jazz.

We’ll listen to some of their work, and other important Asian American Jazz artists.

As a thank you gift to our listeners who decide to pledge during the show hour, we offer the documentary on Anthony Brown and Mark Izu, Don’t Lose Your Soul (dir. Jim Choi, Chihiro Wimbush).

With Host RJ.