Interview: actor/activist George Takei

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George Takei got his big break as an actor when in 1965 he was cast as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu in the American television show Star Trek. Although Star Trek ran for only three seasons, it continued on in syndication for years, and spawned an additional five television series, 12 films and dozens of video games.

Takei continues to work as an actor, but people under 40 are more likely to know him for his political activism than for his acting.

Aged five, Takei and his family were interned with tens of thousands of other Japanese-Americans during World War Two, and the injustice of the experience helped make him a political activist. Takei has been prominent in commemorating and preserving the history of the internment, but he found a cause even closer to his heart in 2005, when then-Governor  Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a California proposition to legalize gay marriage.

Like many Americans, Takei had kept his homosexuality hidden for fear of damaging his career, but angered by Schwarzenegger’s veto, he took up the banner of equal rights for the LGBT community. This year, he came to Japan in June, which in the United States is LGBT Pride Month, to share his experiences of “coming out” as a gay man, and to urge Japanese people to fight for their own rights as well.

R&George

1965年、アメリカのテレビドラマ「スタートレック」でヒカル・スールー、日本語吹き替え版ではカトー隊員の役を演じ、ブレイクした俳優のジョージ・タケイさん。スタートレックは、3シーズンのみの放映でしたが、その後、長年に渡り再放送され、後に5シリーズの続編と12本の映画作品、そして何十というビデオゲームへと発展しました。

タケイさんは、その後も役者としての活動を続けていますが、40代より下の世代では、演劇活動より、政治活動家として、お馴染みのようです。

第二次大戦下、5歳の時に、多くの日系アメリカ人と同じく、家族と共に抑留され、過酷な生活を強いられた経験が政治活動家への道につながったというタケイさんは、強制収容の事実を偲び、その歴史を保存する活動をおこなってきましたが、2005年、アーノルド・シュワルツネッガーカリフォルニア州知事が同性婚法案に拒否権を発動したことで、より身近な活動テーマを見つけることとなります。

多くのアメリカ人と同じように自分のキャリアのため、同性愛者であることを隠し続けてきたタケイさんですが、シュワルツネッガー州知事の拒否権に怒りを覚えたことから、LGBTコミュニティーの平等を訴え、アメリカでのLGBTプライド月間にあたる、この6月には、来日し、同性愛者としてカミングアウトした経験をシェアし、日本の人々にも権利のために戦うよう、呼びかけました。

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The clips I played during the Dee Dee Bridgewater interview

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The clips I played during my interview with Dee Dee Bridgewater (but there is much, much more music out there!).

Part 1:

1. “God Bless the Child” (from “Eleanora Fagan”)

2. “I’m a Fool to Want You” (from “Keeping Tradition”)

3. “Precious Thing” (with Ray Charles, from “Victim of Love”)

4. “Four Women” (from “Red Earth”)

5. “Strange Fruit” (from “Eleanora Fagan”)

Also, during my conversation with Dee Dee I mentioned a couple of songs I had heard her talk about a few days earlier in Osaka. Those are:

Billie Holliday singing “Strange Fruit” and Nina Simone singing “Four Women“.

One more thing: Dee Dee turned me on to Lorez Alexandria, whom I’d never heard of. Enjoy this.

 

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Interview: Jazz entertainer Dee Dee Bridgewater

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Dee Dee Bridgewater is not only a jazz singer who has won three Grammy Awards and performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon, but also a stage actress who won a Tony Award for her performance in The Wiz and was acclaimed for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Day

Dee Dee has played in Japan many times, most recently as part of an all-star line-up at International Jazz Day in Osaka earlier this year. I spoke with Dee Dee before she played a gig at the Blue Note Tokyo a few days after that.

自らを「ジャズエンターテナー」と呼ぶディーディー・ブリッジウォーター

グラミー賞を3度獲得し、ディジー・ガレスピーやソニー・ロリンズ、デクスター・ゴードンといった有名ジャズメンとの共演だけでなく、ミュージカル「Wiz」ではトニー賞を受賞し、ビリー・ホリデーを題材としたミュージカル「Lady Day」の主役を務めた女優としての活躍も高い評価を受けています。

日本でも何度もライブを行い、先月大阪で行われた国際ジャズデーにもオールスターメンバーの一人として参加していましたが、そんな彼女にブルーノートトーキョーでお話を伺いました。

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Jazz entertainer Dee Dee Bridgewater

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My next guest is Dee Dee Bridgewater, who is not only a jazz singer who has won three Grammy Awards and performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon, but also a stage actress who won a Tony Award for her performance in The Wiz and was acclaimed for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Day

Dee Dee has played in Japan many times, most recently as part of an all-star line-up at International Jazz Day in Osaka earlier this month. I spoke with Dee Dee at the Blue Note Tokyo before she played a gig last month. 

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Interview: bolero singer Mateo Stoneman

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Mateo Stoneman is not your typical singer of boleros, traditional Spanish-language dance music that originated in Cuba in the late 19th century and are popular throughout much of Latin America. 

For starters, Stoneman, who was born Matthew, not Mateo, is a self-described “white guy” from the American state of New Hampshire, where Latinos comprise a tiny minority of the population. Also, Stoneman did not learn to play boleros at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, or even a music conservatory in Havana or Mexico City.

He learned to play boleros, and to sing in Spanish, while he was in prison in California, and when he got out, found that if he put a hat down in the street and started playing, people would offer up spare change and dollar bills. Since then, he’s recorded regularly in Cuba with members of the Buena Vista Social Club, and has issued a handful of CDs, including his latest, Under the MoonlightA film about Mateo’s life recently premiered in the United States at SXSW.

I spoke with Mateo in Gakugei-Daigaku before he played a gig at Roman Records Café during his second tour of Japan in two years. 

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19世紀後半にキューバで発祥し、ラテンアメリカ諸国で人気となったスペイン語の伝統的なダンス音楽「ボレロ」。マテオ・ストーンマンは、このボレロの典型的な歌手とは一線を画す、異例のシンガーです。

まず、ご本人いわく、アメリカのニューハンプシャー州のマテオ、ではなく、マシューズ出身の「白人」というマテオ、地元ではラテン系が非常に少なく、彼自身、ボレロを学んだのは、ジュリアード・音楽スクールでもハバナやメキシコシティの音楽学校でもなく、カリフォルニアの刑務所だったそうで、出所後、路上で歌い始めたところ、道行く人々がお金をくれたそう。そこから、現在では、キューバでブエナビスタ・ソシアル・クラブのメンバーと共に定期的にレコーディングをおこなったり、最新アルバム「Under the Moonlight」をはじめとするCDをリリースしたりするまでになっています。

今回は、2度目のジャパンツアーのために来日を果たしたマテオに学芸大学のローマン・レコーズ・カフェでのライブの前にお話を伺いました。

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Interview: drummer, percussionist, pianist and composer Jack DeJohnette, Part 2

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Jack DeJohnette is an American drummer, percussionist, pianist and composer who has worked with Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Betty Carter and Stan Getz, among many, many others.

He’s probably best known for his work as a member of the Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette Trio, but for most of his career, he has ranged far and wide across the jazz spectrum, and in 2009 won a Grammy Award for Best New Age album, with Peace Time.

DeJohnette is in Tokyo tonight through Thursday at the Blue Note, leading the Jack DeJohnette Trio, which also features saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matthew Garrison.

I interviewed DeJohnette when he was here last summer with pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Gary Peacock on the 30th anniversary tour of their Standards Trio, and this episode is a rebroadcast of that interview.

In addition to the options below, you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes (the link is here).

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Interview: drummer, percussionist, pianist and composer Jack DeJohnette, Part 1

JackRepostImage

Jack DeJohnette is an American drummer, percussionist, pianist and composer who has worked with Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Betty Carter and Stan Getz, among many, many others.

He’s probably best known for his work as a member of the Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette Trio, but for most of his career, he has ranged far and wide across the jazz spectrum, and in 2009 won a Grammy Award for Best New Age album, with Peace Time.

DeJohnette is in Tokyo tonight through Thursday at the Blue Note, leading the Jack DeJohnette Trio, which also features saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matthew Garrison.

I interviewed DeJohnette when he was here last summer with pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Gary Peacock on the 30th anniversary tour of their Standards Trio, and this episode is a rebroadcast of that interview.

In addition to the options below, you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes (the link is here).

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Bolero singer Mateo Stoneman

Mateo_Art_Web

My next guest will be Mateo Stoneman, who is definitely not your typical singer of boleros, traditional Spanish-language dance music that originated in Cuba in the late 19th century and are popular throughout much of Latin America. 

For starters, Stoneman, who was born Matthew, not Mateo, is a self-described “white guy” from the American state of New Hampshire, where Latinos comprise a tiny minority of the population. Also, Stoneman did not learn to play boleros at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, or even a music conservatory in Havana or Mexico City.

He learned to play boleros, and to sing in Spanish, while he was in prison in California, and when he got out, found that if he put a hat down in the street and started playing, people would offer up spare change and dollar bills. Since then, he’s recorded regularly in Cuba with members of the Buena Vista Social Club, and has issued a handful of CDs, including his latest, Under the Moonlight. A film about Mateo’s life recently premiered in the United States at SXSW.

I spoke with Mateo in Gakugei-Daigaku before he played a gig at Roman Records Café during his second tour of Japan in two years. 

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Interview, Charles McJilton, part 2

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Here’s the second part of my interview with Charles McJilton, pictured with me after our interview.

In addition to the options below, you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes (the link is here).

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Interview, Charles McJilton, part 1

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Charles McJilton, CEO and founder of Second Harvest Japan, came to Japan for the first time in 1984 with the U.S. military, and returned in 1991 to conduct research at Sophia University as part of his undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota.

During that time he lived in San’ya, a low-income area that many Japanese would not recognize as a part of Tokyo, or Japan, and from January 1997 to April 1998, in an effort to better understand the challenges facing the area’s residents, many of whom live below the poverty line, he lived in a cardboard shelter alongside the Sumida River.

In 2000, he became co-chair of a coalition of groups working together to share resources among food distribution programs, and two years later, he incorporated Second Harvest Japan, the first food bank in Japan.

Second Harvest Japan collects food that would otherwise go to waste from food manufacturers, farmers, and individuals, and distributes it to people in need such as children in orphanages, low-income households, and the homeless.

I interviewed Charles at his office in Asakusabashi, Tokyo.

セカンドハーベスト・ジャパンの創設者でCEOを務めるチャールズ・マクジルトンは、1984年にアメリカ陸軍と共に初めて来日、1991年には、上智大学へ、ミネソタ大学からの学部留学生という形で再び来日することになりました。

その間、低所得者層が多く住む三谷に住み、従来の日本や東京とは違った世界を垣間みた彼は、貧困にあえぐ人々の状況と向き合い、理解しようと、1997年1月から1998年4月まで、隅田川沿いの段ボールハウスに住むという体験をしています。

2000年には、食糧配給プログラムを共同で行っていたグループの共同議長を務め、その2年後、日本初のフードバンクである、セカンドハーベスト・ジャパンを設立しました。セカンドハーベスト・ジャパンでは、食品製造業や農家、そして個人から廃棄される食糧を集め、児童養護施設や低所得者世帯やホームレスに配布する業務を行っています。

そんなチャールズに浅草橋のオフィスでお話を伺いました。

In addition to the options below, you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes (the link is here).

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