SAN FRANCISCO — Emmy Award-winning composer Mark Izu presents “Songs for J-Town,” an evening of American jazz infused with traditional Japanese gagaku music and poetry about San Francisco’s Japantown, on Saturday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the Presidio Theatre, 99 Moraga Ave. in the Presidio of San Francisco.
“This concert is for all the people who have called Japantown home and we are paying homage to the Harlem of the West, the Fillmore Filipinos, those of us who were incarcerated, and most importantly, we are celebrating the fact that we’re still here,” event organizers said. “Please join us!”
“This is my 45th year as a musician and composer – and my first concert in a very long time,” said Izu. “As I emerge out of the chrysalis of COVID, I muse on what the world has become. Where is my place in it? What do I have to contribute?
“My musings always take me back to J-Town. We the original, the first Japanese settlement in America, displaced three times: the anti-Japanese laws during the Victorian era, the Incarceration, and Redevelopment!
“And back to my father fighting in Europe with the 442nd. To my mother imprisoned in Poston. Still our brave little community stands!
“Warm memories of people and places come and gone: Issei grandmas in kimono riding Muni, Nisei aunties cooking community feasts, Sansei fighting for Redress. As I compose this music, the spirit of my sensei, Togi Suenobu, whispers in my ears, ‘The journey continues.’”
Compositions by Izu (contrabass and sho) with Mas Koga (shakuhachi, flute, saxophones), Jimi Nakagawa (taiko and traps), Jim Norton (woodwinds), Caroline Cabading (vocals), Devorah Major (spoken word), Sara Sithi-Amnuai (trumpet and sheng), and Brenda Wong Aoki (storyteller). Blessing by Rev. Mas Kawahatsu. Digital collage by Andrea Wong. Film by Tonilyn A. Sideco.