Tokyo Jazz Site (TJS) was started by James Catchpole (Mr. OK Jazz) in late 2007 as a blog devoted to a simple quest: visit and briefly profile every jazz related establishment in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area. The jazz scene here is extensive and diverse, including bars, cafes, clubs, record shops, performance spaces and festivals. Although New York City may be the center of the jazz world for live music, nowhere in the world can you hear jazz in more diverse & random places than in Japan.
That said, the Tokyo Metro area is massive, with over 50 train lines and 1200+ look-alike stations. Finding some of the tiny jazz joints can be tough, especially if you cannot speak Japanese. The aim of TJS was and remains to help the lost jazz fan find the best spots in town. Over time the website expanded to include interviews, articles and the OK Jazz Podcast as well. The heart of the site though remains the Directory, which currently includes profiles of over 140 jazz spots and more added every month.
TJS has been featured in publications including the Japan Times, Asia Wall St. Journal, BBC Radio 3, BBC Travel, Smithsonian magazine, DownBeat Magazine, Wax Poetics, Departures Magazine, Vinyl Factory, Jazz On The Tube, Time Out Tokyo, Swedish jazz magazine Orkester Journalen, and Russian jazz magazine Jazzist. It also featured on the TV program “Jazz in the City:Tokyo” produced by and broadcast on Dutch national broadcaster NPS, in the Singaporean TV program “Asia By Taxi”, in the French TV program Jazzed Out, and on Coy Wire’s CNN program ‘True Tokyo’
James has interviewed many visiting and local musicians including Jack DeJohnette, David Murray, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, Vijay Iyer, Ozone Makoto, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Marcus Gilmore, Gilad Hekselman, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Yagi Michiyo, Anyango, Otsuka Hiroko, Tomikawa Masashi, Hino Terumasa, Cheikh Lo, Jupiter Okwess, Brian Blade, Makaya McCraven, Joel Ross, Kuwabara Ai, Grace Mahya, Nakamura Akira, Sone Mao and more.
From March 2013 through October 2014 he hosted the weekly radio program OK Jazz on 76.1 InterFM in Tokyo and in 2015 started the OK Jazz podcast, now heard in over 40 countries. In July 2016 he started hosting Tokyo Jazz Map on JJazzNet, an online radio site based in Japan that features contemporary Japanese jazz, which ran through December 2019.
Since 2015 James has collaborated with photographer Philip Arneill on the Tokyo Jazz Joints photo project, aiming to visually capture the hidden, slowly dying world of old jazz spots throughout Japan. To date they have visited 150+ jazz joints, and have been profiled in publications such as Wax Poetics and Vinyl Factory. They’ve also held exhibitions in the US, Europe and Asia to present the project, and started an accompanying podcast to talk about their jazz adventures on the project.
In May 2020 DJ Otuska and James launched K.O.L. Radio, an online music channel featuring podcasts and mixes from selectors both in and outside Japan, currently with 55 carefully curated mixes by 45 selectors in 14 countries.
(In non-pandemic times) you can find James DJing around the Tokyo Metro Area at bars and clubs like Li-Po, Bonobo, the Cactus Club, Brooklyn Parlor, Electrik Jinja, INC Cocktails, and World Kitchen Baobab. He is a 22 year resident of Japan, currently living in Yokohama. When not making his kids listen to Bobby Hutcherson albums or walking his dog, he likes to watch baseball and drink a lot of Guinness.
If you have any burning Qs please email James at moc.e1664347386tiszz1664347386ajoyk1664347386ot@zz1664347386ajkor1664347386m1664347386 (or moc.l1664347386iamg@1664347386oykot1664347386zzajk1664347386orm1664347386)