MARK IZU | Recordings
The score for MU, written by Emmy-award winning composer Mark Izu, lifts off from his handwritten graphic notation, a melding of his love of jazz and ancient Japanese music, and the live improvisation of musicians who have worked together for years.
These include Izu playing the sho, an ancient Japanese court instrument which has 17 pipes and 15 reeds, and requires strong lungs to produce its haunting, atonal notes. The score also calls for three types of Japanese drum, a 13- and a 17-string koto, the shakuhachi bamboo flute and four Western instruments: the double bass, trap drums, saxophone and flute. Percussive sounds emit from a thumb piano, a beaded gourd, a Chinese opera gong filled with ball bearings and handcrafted drum mallets which, when rubbed on drums and koto strings, create a sad cry that strikes Izu as the sound of a whale crying.
Mark Izu and Circle of Fire – Asian Jazz
The CD, Threading Time, by Mark Izu and Circle of Fire, is a rare performance of two national treasures, Gagaku Master Togi Suenobu (Japan), Tabla Master Zakir Hussain (India) swirled into smooth jazz by composer Mark Izu (USA). The album journeys through dimensions of jazz and myth as it explores the ancient intonations of Japanese gagaku and the music of peoples traveling the legendary Silk Road.
A spoken word classic with jazz. WINNER INDIE Award, *****5 Stars
The Queen’s Garden is an epic story with jazz about the love between a good girl who’s all “chop suey” (Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Scots) and a Hawaiian prince born too late in the wrong country.
The first spoken word epic with jazz. A love story set amongst LA's urban tribes, between a good girl who's all "chop suey" (Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Scots) and a proud boy going bad descended from Hawaiian royalty. Based on a true story.
This soul-stirring coming-of-age disc by Brenda Wong Aoki shouldn't be missed by fans of spoken word. The first-person love story of Brenda Jean--a girl of uniquely mixed heritage (Asian, Mexican, and Scottish)--is backed by a melting jazz soundtrack courtesy of bassist-composer Mark Izu. The west side of Los Angeles is the setting here, but it's Aoki's autobiographical narrative that steals each scene. Her love for Kali, a boy descended from Hawaiian royalty, takes its own course, and Aoki's jazz inspired pacing makes this 71-minute disc ebb and flow with a power all its own. --Jason Verlinde
Performed by Anthony Brown’s Grammy Nominated Asian American Jazz Orchestra and San Jose Taiko. Featuring storytellers Brenda Wong Aoki & George Yoshida.
Last Dance tells the internment story through spoken word, poetry, historic photos, 40’s Big Band sound and original music. It’s a tribute to Japanese Americans who used music and dance to remind themselves and the world who they were.
This CD is based on the Navarasa expressed through the musical collaboration of Christopher Yohmei Blasdel on shakuhachi, and Mark Izu on bass, and mouth organ (the Chinese sheng and Japanese shô). The music is mostly improvised.
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Book and CD. Mermaid Meat the Secret to Immortality features a purple embossed silk cover surrounding an inlay of an exquisite woodblock print of a geisha. Inside, the thick crème paper and vintage fonts were inspired by the storybooks of old published around the turn of the last century in the Japonais style celebrating the exotic East. The book features traditional Japanese ghost stories illustrated with full color plates by Yoshitoshi, a woodblock artist famous for his portraits of women and ghosts. San Francisco writer/recording artist Brenda Wong Aoki, is acclaimed as one of the foremost storytellers in the country. These stories have been test marketed internationally and consistently remain her audience's favorites. The market for this book include: women, folklorists, people interested in Japanese culture, people learning English and storytelling aficionados and theater artists.
2013: The Music of MU
2009: Legend of Morning Glory, Belly to Belly #4, Brenda Wong Aoki narrator, Mark Izu composer; First Voice begins working with IODA: the Independent On-Line Distribution Alliance
2008: Mermaid Meat: The Secret to Immorality book & C.D. of five Japanese Ghost Stories, Belly to Belly #1; Brenda Wong Aoki narrator, Mark Izu composer
2008: Threading Time, A new release by Asian Jazz composer Mark Izu - the culmination of a lifetime musical odyssey melding past & present, East & West. A rare recording featuring Japanese Imperial Court Master Gagaku Musician Togi Suenobu, Tabla Master Zakir Hussain, with Otsuzumi master, Okura Shonosuke and vocalist Yoko Fujimoto of KODO. Belly to Belly #2
2008: The Queen’s Garden, C.D. re-release Belly to Belly #3; Brenda Wong Aoki narrator, Mark Izu composer with Joe Perez on Saxophone
2008: Dragon Painter, silent film with Izu’s new score, DVD Milestone release
1999: The Queen’s Garden, C.D. Asian Improv Records
Awarded 1999 Indie Award - Best Spoken Word; Brenda Wong Aoki narrator, Mark Izu composer with Joe Perez on Saxophone
1998: Last Dance, CD Bindu Records
Grammy nominated Asian American Orchestra and the San Jose Taiko perform music composed by Mark Izu and featuring storyteller Brenda Wong Aoki about the imprisonment of American Japanese during World War II through oral history, poetry, 40’s Big Band sound and archival photographs from the Japanese American Historical Society.
1997: Black Hair: Some Japanese Ghosts, audiocassette Pele Productions
Brenda Wong Aoki narrator
1990: Tales of the Pacific Rim: Dreams and Illusions, C.D. Rounder Records, Indie Award - Best Spoken Word; Brenda Wong Aoki narrator, Mark Izu composer