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CASIOPEA : the Fusion Jazz legend is back ! | FESTIVALPHOTO

CASIOPEA : the Fusion Jazz legend is back !


"The best jazz concert I ever had in my life!” . That what I said to everybody after witnessing the coming back of CASIOPEA at last September. I have known this fusion jazz band from Japan since the time I was in junior high school. That meaning it was nearly more than 20 years ago! A number of their famous instrument songs with upbeat tempo like Asayake, Black Joke, Galactic Funk, Domino Line or softer tracks like Pastel Sea, Space Road, Twilight Solitude once was familiar in my ears. My brother's band influenced me as his band wanted to explore and experiment to bring their songs.

Watching back their performance really blow my memory into the 80s, the periods when I was grown up with musical influences that are swift in Indonesia at that time. On the sidelines of my fondness for progressive rock bands kind of Genesis and YES, also Queen, the fusion jazz tone quietly sneak within my ears. Casiopea considered as trendsetter of the fusion jazz in Indonesia at that time.

The History
Casiopea, is a group of Japanese fusion band founded by guitarist Issei Noro, and bassist Tetsuo Sakurai in 1976. During their journey the group is undergoing some changes formations. In 1977, keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya and drummer Takashi Sasaki joined the group. Casiopea was at the peak of popularity in the formation of the third album, “Thunder Live" (Alfa Records, 1980). Since that time the drummer Akira Jimbo joined replace Sasaki. Some famous jazz musician had been collaborate with them such as Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason, Nathan East and Don Grusin . During the early periods of 80s the group has toured to Europe, South America, Australia, and Southeast Asia which first overseas concert was held in the United Kingdom in 1983. After that, except for Issei Noro band has undergone many personnel changes. The second formation of band that last longer is when Yoshihiro Naruse join as bassist (1989) after Akira Jimbo and Tetsuo Sakurai left Casiopea and form their drum-bass duo Jimsaku. Casiopea has released over 35 albums to date in both Japan and the United States.

In 2006, Casiopea decided to take a break because each members also had another music project. By the time the band signed off of all the tour and album, they got a special request from fans who actually want them to return. Taken from official website, "We've discussed and contemplated very deeply before coming to this decision. Lots of fans out there are craving for our return. So we think that it's time to get back to the make our fans happy " Issei Noro, the leader as well as band founder tells.

The dream come true show
After six years of hibernating, the day of most long waiting concert has come at September 30, 2012. The tour of Casiopea that now change name to Casiopea 3rd just as answered their fans request. They change to Casiopea 3rd as it refers to the period as well as explains how many times this band has remodeled the members. And also to introduce the new keyboardist Kiyomi Otaka and fresh music of the band.

Taking place at the Skenoo Exhibition Hall, Gandaria City, the Casiopea 3rd live concert in Jakarta Indonesia, the place had fully by tons of fans that mostly is Casiopea fanatic fans comes from 80's generation. Casiopea 3rd as formation : Guitarist Issei Noro, Bassist Yoshihiro Naruse, new keyboardist Kiyomi Otaka, and supporting drummer Akira Jimbo got on the stage with huge applause. Hysteria voice from audience heard soon they play their hit song such Domino Line, Tokyo Sunset, Golden Waves, Eyes of The Mind, Galactic Funk and Misty Lady. All fans excited watching their jazz-fusion idol is finally back on stage.

Except the youngest member Kiyomo Otaka, the band actually were already up to 50 by aged but still they looked energetic. Mostly for Akira Jimbo as he got the smallest body but the way he played that drum stick was amazing. Issei Noro could still have dashing stage show. More than just that, bassist Yoshihiro Naruse gave a very rousing performance by getting off the stage while playing solo bass in the middle of the concert. Tracks by tracks they played just hypnotized the audiences.

Casiopea seem know very well how to get their fans emotionally involved with their signature songs. It shown when they like pretend to end up show without playing Asayake, one of their most wanted signature song. After long shouted and scream of fans ”Asayake… Asayake...Asayake” as ask them to come back to stage, finally after not so long they come up again to stage and play this legend song as encore. How spectacular the atmosphere I felt when song that have aged for 30 years played. I think that was the most peak moment at concert. Toki Meki taken from The Party Album (1990) appears sweetly as their last tracks that night. Stunning !

The Fans
For those fans who always following Casiopea since their beginning, most of this show was like their dream come true. Being in the crowds of the lover, I had gather some impressions from their fans about the show. The long wait of 18 years must be a very long time for fanatical fans to be able to see the return of this fusion jazz living legend.

Just like me, the Casiopea fans generally those who still at secondary school age in the 80s era, ages where the influence of music got to become the lifestyle. And 20 years later, fans have become established which still have a musical taste and big sense of nostalgia for Casiopea. Surely they have different expectation for the concert that night .

In the span of less than 30 years from the beginning of this group stands to this day, Casiopea has delivered more than 35 albums. This does not include the DVD of the live concert so those mandatory items collector. For Riza Bachtiar (46 yrs, architect) his love of Casiopea was started in the 1980s. He began collecting album Casiopea in cassette format and later change in CD and LP format. The collection now has reached 38 album CD and LP plus also 6 Laser Disc for some of band live. It's not that easy to get the CD / LP Casiopea in Indonesia, and that means must be imported. Just as experienced by Iwie (42 yrs, housewife), Casiopea collection scarcity in Indonesia seems to be a happy hunting for her. "I must ask my friend who work as flight attendant for every time she fly to Tokyo to get Casiopea album”.

Formation changes in the band also become a concern for fans themselves because they know and understand exactly how each personnel skill if mutually compared. The presence of new keyboardist Kiyomi Otaka according to Iwie making the music became more “western” taste. The same thing also said by Riza that the tone sounds more blues on keyboards but without losing the true spirit of Casiopea as Issei Noro was able to keep his music remains on the corridor.

Mentioning the presence of new keyboardist and bassist who was not the same anymore with the formation of the 80s era, also a special note for the fanatical fans. A Japanese friend audiences I met Haruhiko Takamoto (45 yrs), said "For me bassist Tetsuo Sakurai and keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya are still the best, but I still like this current formation".

Andre Pelenkahu (sales, 41 years), possessed high expectations on this show because there is Akira Jimbo who will complete Issei and Yoshihiro Naruse. A little disappointed because Minoru Mukaiya replaced by Kiyomi Otaka, but he still considers Kiyomi solo’s keyboard as fantastic. Overall, for Andre who was holding ticket with number 000001, (meaning he was the first person who buy!), feel so happy to see the Casiopea concert with such a great stage, sound and lovely lighting.

Finally, Indonesia should be lucky as the second country chosen for Casiopea to perform after Tokyo in Japan. We do hope that Casiopea will still keep on continuing create their music, and cook up another new album for their fans all over the world. Arigato Casiopea !!


Writer: Apey Idris
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Wendy Wendy Written 2015-06-16 14:29:12
This is WONDERFUL NEWS, to hear they are touring again. Do you now if they will be coming to the USA anytime in the future?