Trio show, finally. And it’s my birthday, too

Gary Fukushima, piano
JP Maramba, bass
Miles Senzaki, drums

Friday, August 30
Blue Whale

It has been eight years since I first met Miles, at a little club in Little Tokyo, and I met JP roughly around that same time at a gig at a wine bar in Westlake Village. We soon afterward became the house rhythm section for a few years at a Tuesday night jam session. There was lots of good musical moments, laughs, a little too much to drink most nights, and most importantly, the makings of a working relationship that grew into something stronger than friendship, the bonds of which have proved to be quite resilient as the three of us have changed and grown in different ways.

We are definitely not the same young guys that used to do that weekly session. Miles and JP have gone on to do many different kinds of music and been a part of many diverse musical scenes, from afro-beat to soul to rock, and they do it all with so much integrity, a relentless drive to make it right and real, to find a groove that is deep and worthy of the beats they reference.

I’ve learned a lot from them, having stayed closer to my home in the jazz world, and I am thankful for the chance to learn how to do different things, from learning Afro-Peruvian polyrhythms to understanding reggae and hip-hop, which J-Dilla records to check out, and why Tony Allen is one of the best drummers who ever lived.

So when we play now, those things have changed our band and adapted our sound away from the more esoteric piano trio subtleties to things that usually have some deep groove running through the heart of it. Where it begins to get fun is when we try to keep the groove happening into more tricky settings, namely a fair amount of material that is in some sort of odd-eighth-note configuration. We are also trying to do justice to songs by other artists we have enjoyed listening to, from Stevie Wonder to Little Dragon to Tears for Fears to Bob Dylan. We have a really interesting and extensive repertoire now, more than what we can usually do in the course of an evening.

We’ve been getting together on a weekly basis for some time now, which we haven’t done since the jam session days, but now we do it with the express purpose of realizing all of the things we thought we might be able to do before. Eight years is a long time to have a working group and not have any much documentation of it, so we are taking steps to remedy that. I think we are on the verge of something very special.

Our upcoming show at Blue Whale will be the first step in seeing what more we can do after all this time together. I love this band and I love the guys in it, and I am more excited for this show than almost anything else I can think of recently. I hope you can come and hear what we are starting to hear.

Last, and I think least, my birthday is on the 31st, which means I will turn a year older promptly at the conclusion of our second set at midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning. I plan on hanging out for a while to celebrate, so to those of my musician friends who have gigs, even if you can’t make the show it would be awesome to see you afterward for a minute.

Thanks for reading!



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