The coldest season of the year has come. It is best to spend this time in a warm place listening to heartwarming music.
Osaka has long been blessed with lots of wonderful musicians of various genres and also no shortage of venues to enjoy their polished performances. In this edition, Osaka Fan Club would especially like to recommend both classical music and jazz, for experiencing a ‘gentle mature ambience’.
The ‘Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra’ is an orchestra representing Osaka. The popular “Mister Kelly’s” is a true jazz live house. We asked them both about the ‘charm and listening points of music the readers will want to hear after reading this’. Tonight, we invite you to melt your heart in a hot performance from today’s


By the way, do you know which orchestra in Japan has made the most records and CDs? Surprisingly it is ‘Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra (Dai Phil)’. Since its inception in 1947 as ‘Kansai Symphony Orchestra’, it has been active as a leading orchestra in Japan, producing a great number of works to date. The current music director is Mr. Eiji Oue. He assumed the position in 2003, succeeding the late Mr. Takashi Asahina who had conducted the orchestra without a break for the 55 years since their start-up.

The Dai Phil February subscription concert (The Symphony Hall) is attracting huge attention from fans and beyond. It has the No. 9 symphonies by Shostakovich and Bruckner, “destined numbers beyond time” . Mr. Osamu Fukuyama, Performance Director of Osaka Philharmonic Association, talks about the ‘destiny’: “Hearing the title Symphony No. 9, one would tend to think of Beethoven (1770-1827) who died after composing what was to be his final work. Actually, Bruckner (1824-1896) also died after composing his own No. 9, which led to the rumor of ‘the curse of No. 9’. As a result, Mahler (1860-1911) did not give a number to his 9th symphony, giving it the title ‘The Song of the Earth’ instead. However, he then started to work on his 10th symphony, which was never fully completed, due to his demise. Since Shostakovich (1906-1975) was a 20th century composer, I am not sure if he was aware of the curse of No.9 or not. He composed symphonies up to No. 15.”

Music Director Mr. Eiji Oue

The ‘curse of No. 9’ must have become a thing of the past in the 20th century after all. Though Mr. Oue’s forte is Shostakovich, No. 9 is his first performance with Dai Phil, attracting even more attention. On the other hand, his predecessor Mr. Asahina’s forte was Bruckner, or to be more precise, Mr. Asahina was “the leading authority of Bruckner in Japan” who placed Bruckner in an indisputable position in Japan. “Bruckner’s pieces have a particular characteristic harmony, and they say it is not easy, even for professionals, to do justice to the resonance of the massive sound. Master Asahina permeated the sound in Dai Phil over and over until it became its own. Accordingly, Takashi Asahina + Dai Phil came to be synonymous with Bruckner,” according to Mr. Fukuyama.

Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra

Mr. Asahina passed away in 2001. This year is his 10th memorial. His last performance was of Tchaikovsky No.5. His last Bruckner was No. 9 which he conducted three months before his death. So this is a compilation for Mr. Oue himself to conduct No. 9 in the 10th memorial year and he probably has a special feeling toward this performance. “As for musicality, Shostakovich No. 9 is lighthearted and full of variations, while Bruckner’s is grave and lengthy. It may be a rare opportunity to compare two pieces like this.” Mr. Fukuyama himself is looking forward to it very much. We suggest that you treat your ears to a listening to the “destined pieces resonating beyond time”.

We interviewed Mr. Osamu Fukuyama, the Performance Director of Osaka Philharmonic
Association, who says “I am looking forward to it very much”.

Osaka used to be a ‘city of jazz’. It is recorded that the first professional jazz band in Japan was ‘Ichiro Ida and Laughing Stars’ formed in April 1923 by Ichiro Ida who had previously been active as a member of the Takarazuka All-Girls Revue Orchestra. However, Mitsukoshi Department Store had organized the Boys Music Troupe in Osaka before that, and Takashimaya and “Izumoya” famous for its eel dishes also formed the Boys Music Troupe in 1923. These Boys Music Troupes gave enthusiastic jazz performances on Saturday nights on houseboats on the Dotombori waterway. Osaka was engulfed in the heat of jazz produced in a very appropriate way for an ‘Aqua Metropolis’ from the Taisho era (1912-1926) to the Showa era (1926-1989).

The charm of Mister Kelly’s is the quality
sound and close proximity whereby you can
feel the musicians breathing

The tradition is still alive in the town of Osaka. ‘Mister Kelly’s’ in Dojima is one of the live houses heating up the jazz scene in Osaka. Mr. Hiroyuki Kubota, Executive Director, mentions a “wide range” first when speaking on the charm of jazz. “Various genres have been born over time such as Dixie, Swing, Modern, Free and Fusion, which still survive today. The colorful band style varies from solo, trio, quartet, quintet, and large group of big band, so I am sure you will meet a style of jazz to suit your taste. The stylish ambience created by jazz is also charming, which we would like you to savor in my place.” Mister Kelly’s has a deserved reputation for quality sound. “I don’t think there is any other place with seating for 40 to 50 like ours which has its own professional sound staff. The weather on the day has an influence on the sound even indoors, and players and musical instruments alike require adjustment. In particular, fusion type bands and vocals display a clear difference. You will surely notice once you listen.” He says the charm of a live performance lies in the fact that ‘each occasion is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’. “You can hear the sound only then, not before or after. So you may encounter a performance on some occasion, which is maybe not the best. But the charm of a live performance here includes the physical presence and their breathing of the musicians. You cannot get that feeling in a big concert hall, even though it is also a live performance.”

Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio

Finally we will introduce February ‘listening points’ recommended by Mr. Kubota. Sorry about the short notice, but we start with the not-to-be-missed Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio on February 1 and 2. The virtuoso playing by the man known as “King of Modern Jazz Guitar” is literally overwhelming. TOKU & Toru Dodo Trio on the 16th is recommended for those who “come to listen to jazz for the first time”. “Good looking players and the sound of the flugelhorn that is softer than a trumpet’s make TOKU very popular among women, too”. Of course there are heated live performances every day besides these. You can enjoy the chef’s pride dishes such as special beef filet cutlet sandwiches along with the music.

The most popular is cutlet sandwich

TOKU&Toru Dodo Trio

Kita-Shinchi, Osaka. Savor the luxurious time exclusively for adults with champagne and cigars, in the fireplace light.

This bistro in Fukushima is a place for mature people to get away from it all. Happiness lies in spending time leisurely with a top-class meal in a stylish restaurant like this.

Mr. Ryoichi Hattori, known for numerous hit music pieces including ‘Soshu Yakyoku (Suzhou Serenade)’and ‘Aoi Sanmyaku (Green Mountains)’ and proud recipient of the People’s Honor Award, was born in current Hirano Ward, Osaka City in 1907. He displayed his talent in music even when he was a primary school student, and joined Izumoya Boys Music Troupe when he was 16 years old. He was playing the oboe then. When he was 19 years old, he joined Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra (for radio broadcast, no relation with the current Dai Phil) in 1926, still playing the oboe. His big turning point came when he met a Russian conductor Mr. Emmanuel Metter there. Mr. Hattori studied music theory, composing and conducting under him, and developed his talent as a musician. His performance after that was fit to deserve a place in Japan’s musical history. It is worth noting that Mr. Asahina also studied under Mr. Metter at the same time as Mr. Hattori. What an incredible connection between the two great musicians…

We decided to conduct the ‘Mister Kelly’s’ interviews outside the shop since tuning-up for a live performance was starting. During the interviewing, a middle-aged man, who was seemingly a neighbor, went in carrying a plastic bag from a convenience store. Soon after, we heard a rhythmical drumming sound. We looked in the shop as we were leaving to find the same man swinging his drumsticks! Oh, boy, did he look cool! I felt that musicians were the most awesome people! By the way, we will focus on ‘Hozenji Yokocho’, which retains the good old Osaka atmosphere, next month. Please look forward to it!

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