• Nov 17 2018 | 9:00 pm

    Asian Improv aRts Midwest Presents: The 23rd Annual Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival 2018

    Francis Wong’s “Legends and Legacies” & Mai Sugimoto's Album Debut “Born/Raised”

Asian Improv aRts Midwest Presents:


The 23rd Annual Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival 2018


This critically acclaimed annual event is an essential cornerstone for highlighting and documenting the significant role that Asian Americans and their collaborators have in contributing to the city’s historic and vibrant musical landscape.


Come and celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival (CAAJF) www.aajazz.org.   The CAAJF features the finest in contemporary Asian American music. Curated by Asian Improv aRts Midwest, national and internationally acclaimed Asian American artists and their collaborators weave together their collective flair to create an improvisational experience.


The final day of the 23rd Annual Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival concludes with two remarkable sets:


Set ONE: Francis Wong’s “Legends and Legacies”

With Francis Wong, William Roper, Mwata Bowden, Edward Wilkerson Jr., Tatsu Aoki, Melody Takata, and Kioto Aoki


A Confluence of West Coast Flare and Chicago Style

Few musicians are as accomplished as Francis Wong, considered one of “the great saxophonists of his generation” by the late jazz critic Phil Elwood. A prolific recording artist, Wong is featured on more than forty titles as a leader and sideman. For over two decades he has performed his innovative brand of jazz and creative music for audiences in North America and Asia. Wong’s imaginative career straddles roles as varied as performing artist, youth mentor, composer, artistic director, community activist, non-profit organization manager, consultant, music producer, and academic lecturer.

Wong is joined by Los Angeles based tuba player and composer William Roper and Melody Takata, a taiko drummer, founder of Genryu taiko and dance artist based in San Francisco. The group is rounded out by the Chicago members, reeds player, Mwata Bowden, is Director of Jazz Ensembles at the University of Chicago and is closely affiliated with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Edward Wilkerson Jr. is an internationally recognized jazz musician, composer, arranger, and educator also based in Chicago. As founder and director of the octet 8 Bold Souls and the twenty-five-member ensemble Shadow Vignettes, Wilkerson has toured festivals and concert halls throughout the US, Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. Kioto Aoki is a taiko artist and core member of Tsukasa Taiko, a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest. She has been playing taiko since the age of 7 and often shares the stage with AACM members. She is a recipient of the Ethnic and Folk Arts Master Apprentice Program from the Illinois Arts Council and recent projects include Yoko Ono’s Skylanding Project in Jackson Park. Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community in Chicago, as well as a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a filmmaker, and an educator. He is one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last thirty-five years. Aoki is the Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival.

Set TWO: AIRMW is proud to present:

 Mai Sugimoto’s performance for her debut album “Born/Raised”


Mai Sugimoto – saxophone

Quentin Coaxum –trumpet

Katie Ernst – bass

Charles Rumback – drums


Mai Sugimoto is a Japanese born saxophonist and composer living in Chicago. She performs frequently throughout the Chicagoland area and is a member of Hanami, a quartet that features her original work and arrangements of Japanese music.

Sugimoto draws additional inspiration from Lennie Tristano and his improvisational approach, 90’s and early 00’s J-pop, the Beatles, Glenn Gould, and the creative music scene of Chicago. She continues to channel these inspirations and others into writing for her new quartet which she debuted in 2016.