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Asian Heritage Jazz Festival at the Aratani

The second annual Asian Heritage Jazz Festival will be held on Saturday, June 25, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo (next to the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center).

“The Asian Heritage Jazz Festival features some of the most renowned Asian jazz artists in America, who have made inroads on a national and global scale,” organizer said. “This festival strives to showcase the achievements of these artists, and to recognize the many Asian American musicians who have succeeded in embracing jazz, an original American art form.

“Jazz has become increasingly popular in Asia with the Java Jazz Festival in Indonesia now the largest attended jazz festival in the world. It is now time to highlight and promote our local artists here in the United States.

“The festival also aims to promote and nurture younger artists who deserve wider recognition, but are unable to break into the mainstream world of major jazz festivals. To further insure the future of the Asian culture in embracing an American art form, the festival also plans to set up music scholarship opportunities to deserving talents.”

The event is produced by Apaulo Music Productions LLC, which has been producing music and concert events for over 15 years. From event coordination to full-scale concert production, Apaulo Music has produced numerous events, such as the Temecula Wine and Music Festival, Pacific Rim Jazz Festival, Grooves at La Quinta, Grooves at the Westin, and over 30 concert events in Hawaii.

Featured artists:

• Michael Paulo cut his teeth as a member of the band Kalapana. He was the featured saxophonist for legendary jazz vocalist Al Jarreau for 12 years. With ten solo releases to date, Paulo is one of the most influential Asian American saxophonists in the world. As a performer and producer, he has participated in many major jazz festivals around the world. Through his performances and events, he has raised over a million dollars for charitable causes.

• Grace Kelly, saxophonist, vocalist and songwriter, recorded her first album at 12 years old. At the young age of 23, she is one of today’s brightest jazz stars. Five-time winner of ASCAP composer awards and seven times voted in the top of the Downbeat critics’ poll, she already has done over 700 performances as an artist around the world. She appears regularly on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” as a member of the house band, Stay Human, and at many of the world’s major jazz festivals.

• Charmaine Clamor is celebrated by The New York Times as “a gifted vocalist” and by The Los Angeles Times as “one of the important and original new jazz singers of the decade.” Her many honors include the Asian Heritage Award in Performing Arts, Filipinas Entertainer of the Year, and recognition as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinas in the United States. With three consecutive albums in the JazzWeek World Music Top-20, including the rare feat of simultaneously making Top 5 on both the World (No. 2 ranking) and Traditional Jazz (No. 4) radio charts, Clamor has earned unprecedented praise for her cultural trailblazing.

• June Kuramoto was born in Saitama-ken, just outside of Tokyo, and raised in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, and epitomizes America’s evolving art and music culture. As a founding member of the world-renowned band Hiroshima and as a solo artist, she has brought to the world the sound of the Japanese koto. She is unmatched in the realm of jazz on her instrument.

• Connie Han is a youthful innovator who, with any luck, will be creating thought-provoking music for many years to come. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, majoring in jazz piano. Influenced by the genius of players such as Hank Jones, Erroll Garner, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Kenny Kirkland, and Mulgrew Miller, to name a few, she brings life to her own creative vision through the Great American Songbook. She has toured with Monica Mancini, Antonio Hart and more.

• Dean James has become one of the most versatile saxophonists in smooth jazz. Having released four CDs as a solo artist, he is currently embarking on his fifth solo project, “Groovysax,” to demonstrate his soulful performances on both alto and soprano saxophones with a unique blend of smooth jazz, R&B, Latin and pop music that sets apart his signature style and sound. James was born and raised in San Francisco and attended the Berklee College of Music, where he studied both jazz and classical music. He has also has toured with R&B artists.

• Kelly Che, who is originally from Seoul, is a classically trained singer and musician who discovered she loved singing jazz. She refined her craft by performing weekly shows in Los Angeles as well as special events throughout the Southland. She has collaborated with the likes of John Clayton and Oscar Hernandez. Her debut album, “Collage” — featuring notable L.A. jazz artists, including Edward Resto, Ramon Stagnaro, Joe Rotondi, Joey De Leon, Walter Rodriguez and Harry Kim — is an eclectic mix of musical styles and traditions that creates a transformative listening experience for music lovers of all nationalities.

• Rene Paulo, known as Hawaii’s King of the Keyboards, is the senior member at the festival. He was a child prodigy, playing the piano at 4 years old. His accolades include Hawaiian Hoku and Fil-Am lifetime achievement awards for his musical contributions. At 85 years old, he has just released a new jazz solo piano record in Japan. He continues to amaze audiences with his virtuosity and flamboyant style.

• Boy Katindig is one of the finest Asian jazz pianists around. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philippine Association of the Recording Industry in recognition of his continuous exemplary and outstanding achievement as one of the pioneering artists in the propagation of original Filipino music and as an award-winning songwriter and producer.

• Tateng Katindig is undoubtedly the top Filipino jazz pianists in Los Angeles. His lyrical and emotional style will impress you. Has performed with jazz players like Lou Rawls, Carl Sanders, Teddy Edwards, Sam Most, Eric Marienthal, Alphonse Mouzon, and sax legend Ritchie Cole.

• Kimo Cornwell, a member of the band Hiroshima for over 20 years, is considered the best contemporary jazz keyboardist in the history of Hawaii. After moving to Los Angeles in 1981, he toured with notable artists such as Cheryl Lynne, Ronnie Laws, Al Jarreau, Howard Hewlitt, Maze, Michael Paulo, Terry Steele and more. His versatility in all genres of music is unmatched.

• Yu Ooka was born in Osaka and studied at the Koyo Conservatory in Kobe. In 2005, he decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue his career and experience different cultures. He played at many L.A. local live clubs, where he was introduced to legendary jazz pianist Billy Mitchell and is currently playing in the Billy Mitchell Group.

• Fred Schreuders is one of the most prolific Asian guitarists today. He has toured and recorded with Hubert Laws, The Supremes, Ronnie Laws, Chante Moore, Michael Paulo, Harvey Mason, Brenda Russell, Deniece Williams, Everette Harp, Jeffrey Osborne and more. A former member of Hiroshima, he is currently working on his first solo project.

• Tomoka is originally from Gifu and earned a bachelor of arts from Buffalo State College and a masters in music from the State University of New York at Buffalo in saxophone performance. While maintaining a private teaching studio for small children to adults, she performed with or was a member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Dortmund Symphony Orchestra (Germany), and Bemus Bay Pops. In jazz, R&B, and Latin settings, she performed for numerous music festivals such as the Queen City Jazz Festival, Lewiston Jazz Festival, M&T Plaza, and Albright Knox Jazz Series. She is currently performing with one of the most popular female jazz groups today, Jazz in Pink.

Tickets are $35 (Balcony 2), $40 (Balcony 1), $50 (Orchestra 3, Orange Section), $60 (Orchestra 3, Green Section), $120 (VIP with meet-and-greet reception), and $250 (sponsor).

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