Jun Iida


oa2 22221


iTunes - $9.99

MUSIC REVIEW BY Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memories


From the first musical strains of this album, the group is swinging hard and they put me in a very festive place. The tone of Jun Iida's trumpet reminds me of New Orleans and the early days of Louie Armstrong. The tune is titled, "Gooey Butter Cake" and it's both sweet and jubilant, like celebrating someone's birthday. The "Evergreen" title of this album reflects Jun's time spent in Seattle, Washington. However, his birthplace is further East, in St. Louis, where he was born to a Japanese couple who migrated to our country. Jun Iida grew up hearing his mother's sweet voice singing a popular children's song to him in her native Japanese language. The second track on this album celebrates that precious memory and the popular, traditional, Japanese children's song he remembers called "Akatombo." It's the story of a red dragonfly. Aubrey Johnson's sweet soprano vocals highlight the delightful melody. Jun's mother was also a Koto player, (a Japanese harpist) who was a semi-professional musician in Japan. Clearly, she passed her talents on to her son.

Torn between university training to become an engineer or a musician, Jun Iida studied classical music at Cleveland Institute of Music and jazz at Case Western, while also privately expanding his musical knowledge with Paul Ferguson while living in Seattle. He's a bit of a gypsy, moving from St. Louis to Pittsburgh and living in the Los Angeles, California area for a while before relocating to New York City. Somewhere in between, he received a degree in aerospace engineering at Western Reserve University, but it is music that draws him like quicksand into the circular motion of jazz. He began his musical performance career in L.A., appearing locally with his sextet. I love the way Jun Iida blends pop and jazz music in a contemporary style, without ever losing the essence of 'Straight-ahead' jazz or the important roots of jazz music. He also incorporates his Japanese culture into this artistic work, not only with lyrics in Japanese, but also with the tinkling piano played by our Los Angeles icon, Josh Nelson. There is something about these arrangements and that piano that remind me of the time I lived and worked in Japan. This album awakens those fond memories on tunes like "Forgotten Memories" and "Shiki No Uta" featuring Aubrey's vocals again and a driving drum heartbeat from Xavier Lecouturier that brings funk to the party. Jun's muted trumpet takes center stage and instantly reminds me of a young Miles Davis. I admire Jun's melodic sense. It streams through his music like Santa Ana winds, full of warmth and power, with memorable lines of melody. Now and then, Masami Kuroki steps into the spotlight on guitar to mesmerize this listener. Iida's original tune, "My Anguish in Solidarity." seems to be based on the changes of "Auld Lang Syne," but clearly takes a different direction during the improvisational parts. Jonathan Richards parts the curtains and steps through with his upright bass soaking up the spotlight to offer a lovely solo. "Song for Luke" is beautifully performed on Jun's trumpet and once again shows us what lovely, unforgettable melodies he creates. The trumpeter wrote this song as a tribute to a friend who passed away at a very young age. I am intrigued by this new artist and look forward to many more recordings of progressive and imaginative music.





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