A fans artistic ingestion of a vocalist’s performance has, in some way, to do with the backdrop. For a rising vocalist, a live performance creates a technical and emotional euphoria that, in many cases, escapes the studio setting. Such is the case for jazz vocalist Taeko Fukao, as she pierced into the psyche of the crowds, adorning Bushnell Park in Connecticut. The pulse of that July performance warmed the masses and created a genuine compassion for her unique expression of an ever-evolving jazz interpretation. This is a common thread in the Taeko concert circuit.
Opening the evening with a vibrant arrangement of "On a Clear Day" was nothing short of a strategically controlled accomplishment. Taeko’s savvy approach to an arrangement offered the fandom, an easily embraceable composition. Evident was the showcasing of her intellect for understanding the live audience process. The reaction from the audience was unswervingly receptive and echoed her own vibrant rhythm, not only within her momentum but theirs as well. It took little time to climb aboard and absorb her emotional sway but once captured, they sat glued to every note.
The reactions were poignant as the evening progressed. Taeko was accompanied into the Bushnell stage by pianist Lou Rainone, bassist Gaku Takunaski, and drummer Doug Richardson with a strong confidence in their own honed craft. Each craftsman seemed to deliver their charismatic expertise however at the same time, enhancing Taeko’s signature vocal galaxy. One of the most enjoyable parts of the evening was her interaction with her band and audience. Seldom do you see such tenderness driven in both directions. In between cuts her extroverted banter was so inspirational. One might inject that she expressed a polished poise; I will state simply as... Taeko being Taeko
Sammy Cahn’s "You Taught My Heart to Sing" was her way into the audience’s psyche. Her angelic demeanor, undressed itself through this arrangement. As the piece carried on, the masses fell into her lap, with the ease of an infant to a mother’s warm embrace. Taeko at this point had fallen into her groove, which so mirrored and was evident on her debut project One Love.
I had a chance to converse with Taeko on her stimulating encounter at Bushnell. "It was a total joy. First of all, we were lucky to have such a gorgeous summer day. The green lawn in this huge park was full and shiny, and the breeze was soft. Everyone was smiling, and we all were there for the sake of music and to have a good time together. The energy in the park was high!" As for her take on the audience reaction, she let it be known her gratitude was genuine. "As I was hearing their (band) performance and the audience’s response, I was able to tell we had a great listening audience out there, which made me so excited and relaxed at the same time to come out to the stage as a headliner."
Taeko is an artist that never adopted those ego centric tendencies, offered her appreciation to those who have traveled along her career path. "As you know, jazz is a communication. Since we had a wonderful audience of nearly 2,000 people in front of us, and my musicians, Lou, Gaku, and Doug did an excellent job playing together, performing on the stage felt so easy. All I had to do was to enjoy the moment, release myself in each song and sing my heart out." As the audience reaction grew, this statement was apparent and easily confirmed.
The articulate delivery of her arrangement of "Hoshi-No Love Letter" was yet another musical epiphany for the attendees at Bushnell. This piece from her debut CD One Love is an extension from her heart, which reached out with range and tone to sway curiosity to those first time fans, experiencing her gift. The encores at the end transformed and delivered a new level of fandom to follow her career. As one fan stated privately to Taeko afterwards in a casual story the fan expressed she was going through a tough time in her life especially with her parents divorcing, etc., but Taeko's music was able to give her a joy and she wanted to send a note of thank you. Taeko’s answer to this was short and direct "This is exactly the reason why I sing."
The concert at Bushnell was just one exhibit in the velvety approach and surrealist expression of Taeko Fukao. Animated on stage with swagger defined by her eastern heritage, Taeko’s angelic lyricism is a show that adopts sellout crowds. Her arrangements may be at times complex and cohesive, her lyrics defining and sentimental, however her performance is a euphoric escape for all in a precious few blue-chip hours.
Thursdays, August 2009 & September 10 Mobay Uptown 17 W. 125tn Street, New York, NY
Sundays, September 13 & 27 G-Bar 579 Grand Concourses, Bronx, NY
Japan Tour, November 20- December 13