The 12th annual Ikebukuro Jazz Festival was held on May 16th & 17th. I stopped by Sunday for a couple hours to have a wander around and was impressed by how much it has grown. Ten stages were clustered around the West Exit of JR Ikebukuro Station, both indoors and outdoors with a full schedule of music from 1130 to 2000.
I headed first to the small stage outside Marui Department Store and ran into the guys from the Lighthouse Bar in Kanda, there to enjoy the afternoon. We watched the Salary-Man All Star Band together then I moved over to the stage outside the Tokyo Geino Gekijo plaza to hear the Electric Miles Groove Session. Despite some technical difficulties which delayed the start these guys were very hip, running through a range of Miles Davis tunes from the late 60’s and early 70’s. I then circled back to Marui to catch the Spiritual Jazz Quartet doing an all-Coltrane set, very cool!
Before leaving I then caught at the main stage in West Gate Park half of the Count Basie Tribute Orchestra’s set. There was a good crowd by then with more people arriving towards the late afternoon.
The local neighborhood jazz festivals continue to grow every year with more and more live acts and larger audiences, helping Tokyo maintain its status as one of the world’s great jazz towns.