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Mark Izu & Christopher Yohmei Blasdel

The traditional music of Asia is fused with African-American improvisation by San Francisco-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Mark Izu. A third generation Japanese-American, Izu has performed with such influential jazz musicians as Cecil Taylor, George Lewis, James Newton and Karl Berger as well as with his own groups, J-Town Jazz Ensemble, featuring Anthony Brown and Jon Jang, and, the Mark Izu Bass Quartet with Lisle Ellis. Izu's 1991 album, Circle Of Fire, was a critics choice in the East Bay Guardian. Izu's compositions include a live score for Sesue Hayakawa's 1919 film, Dragon Painter, and the scores of movies including Wayne Wang's Dim Sum Take Out, Greg Chapnick and Sharon Wood's documentary, Outside In Sight: The Music Of The United Front, and Steven Okazaki's Academy Award-winning film Days Of Waiting. Izu received a Dramalogue award for "Best original music" for his score for his wife, Brenda Wong Aoki's, The Queen's Garden. Izu was commissioned by Asian Improv aRts to compose and perform a piece, "Hibakusha, Survivors!" with an ensemble featuring western and eastern instruments. Izu has studied sho, the Japanese equivelent to the Chinese sheng (multi-reed organ), and performed with Japanese Imperial Court master musician Suenobu Togi since 1976. During the 1986 west coast premier of Somei Sato's musical production, Journey Through Sacred Time, at the Cabrillo Music Festival, Izu was the featured sho player. A graduate of San Francisco State University, Izu began playing with alto saxophonist Lewis Jordan while still a student. The two musicians became regular performers at the famed Blue Dolphin Club. Joined by trumpet player George Sams and drummer Anthony Brown, they formed a band, United Front, which performed annually at European jazz festivals throughout the 1980s. The group recorded five albums between 1979 and 1990.. Since 1989, Izu has served as artistic director of the Asian-American Jazz Festival in San Francisco. He served.as co-director, along with Zakir Hussain, of the San Francisco Jazz Festival's special production, The New Silk Road, in 1996. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi
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