me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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Thanks, Naomi H!

Saw a truly great concert last night, for which I'd like to thank Naomi Hirahara. Not that she played in it, got me a ticket to it, or told me about it. She probably didn't even know about it. Nevertheless, it's on her that I went. The story goes like this: A couple of years ago Naomi, an LA writer and friend of mine, sent an email to her NYC peeps suggesting we check out the East Village gallery show of a friend of hers, George Hirose. George is a photographer Naomi's connected to through the Japanese-American Art Mafia. (No link, I made that up.) The photo in the email was so stunning that I toddled on over to see the show. A knockout. George happened to be at the gallery, and we got to chatting, exchanged email addresses, and a few months later I got a note from him that he was having another show, this one at Kinokuniya Bookstore. Kinokuniya has a performance space, and he took advantage of that by having some friends, Japanese musicians, do a couple of gigs while his show was on. I went to one. One of the musicians was Kaoru Watanabe, a taiko drummer who also plays many different kinds of flute, western and Asian. Watanabe's such a compelling performer I started noticing when he was performing in NYC and popping into his gigs. So when I got the fall schedule for the World Music Institute and saw that Kenny Endo's Gateway taiko tour was coming to NYC, I might've gone anyway; but the fact that Watanabe was part of the group pushed me over the edge.

It was fabulous. Endo has enormous depth of knowledge of Japanese traditional drumming, and also of western jazz, funk, and many other western and eastern musical genres. He synthesizes them all in mesmerizing compositions using both traditional Japanese instruments and many others. (Last night he had a fantastic vibraphonist and also a conch shell.) He's based in Hawaii but tours a lot, and has a center in LA. If you get the chance to hear him, you won't regret it.

So, thanks, Naomi H!

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