An incredible cross genre music festival bringing together artists from across different generations of musicians from all over the world.


SRP Presents EAST MEETS WEST 2019 bringing together musicians originating from both the USA and Japan. From the pioneers of the artform to the most influential up-and-coming artists. The Festival was an amazing collective jam session which played for three days at the Tokyo International Forum Hall C from the 26th of April to the 28th of April in 2019.


<Will Lee (Music Director/ Bassist)>

“It has been my dream to be a part of EAST MEETS WEST! My dream finally came true!” 

Will who has led this epic event, carried himself well and kept big smiles as MC. 


◆Over 10 hours of rehearsal put into each performance

Music director Will Lee seems very happy with his achievement of arranging and choosing songs for the event. He selected talented musicians from the East and West who were able to overcome the various cultural differences to play sessions together for a total of four performances during the three days. All the performers received the music sheets beforehand and gathered to rehearse over 10 hours everyday for three days before the opening. The amazing performances were only achieved by the extreme passion, dedication and a love for the music by all the artists.


◆The magnificent “Super band” 

Will was passionate about gathering members for the house band from a pool consisting of artists from both the USA and Japan. The band included;

Double keyboardist and pianist Jeff Young and Kuwabara Ai,

Double bassists Will Lee (electric) and Keisuke Torigoe(acrostic), Internationally acclaimed Drummer Chris Parker and an emerging artist in his 20’s Akira Yamada, 

Wind instrument players included artists such as Aaron Heick(saxofonist), Yoichi Murata (trombone player), Koji Nishimura (trumpet player). Of the three backup female vocalists, one included N’dea Davenport who is a lead vocalist in the UK acid Jazz band Brand New Heavies back in the day.

Finally, guitarist Nir Felder trained a variety of different styles of music. 

A group of some of the best artists from both the East and the West who collectively created music which reverberated spectacularly the meeting of the two cultures.    

(From the top left : Will, Chris, Jeff, Aaron, Nir)
(From the lower left : Yoichi, Koji, Keisuke, Akira, Ai)



<Mike Stern (Guitar) / Kazumi Watanabe (Guitar) >

One of the first artists featured on the first day of the festival was American Jazz guitarist Mike Stern, member of trumpeter Miles Davis band (from 1981 to 1983). His performance reflected the soul of contemporary jazz. On the other hand, Japanese guitarist Kazumi Watanabe performed a new arrangement of the masterpiece “Unicorn” which got popular through a famous TV commercial. When he performed with Mike Stern at the festival their music became the dream performance of the Japan-USA collaboration.

(From the left : Mike, Kazumi)


<Randy Brecker (Trumpet) / Ada Rovatti (Saxophone)>

The husband and wife pair, Trumpetist Randy Brecker and tenor Saxophonist Ada Rovatti entertained the audience with their Jazz Fusion music.

Fun Fact: although Will used to based in Miami, Randy created an opportunity for her to work in NYC.

Music Director Will and drummer Chris Parker were a part of the band called The Brecker Brothers created by Randy and his younger brother Michael in mid-70s.

Their new arrangement of the masterpiece from the Grammy Awarded Album “Some Skunk Funk” and the iconic “Brecker Brothers” captivated audience.

(From the left : Randy, Ada)


<Terumasa Hino (Trumpet) / Akiko Yano (Vocal/ Piano)>

Having internationally-renowned Japanese musicians such as Trumpet player Terumasa Hino and singer/ pianist Akiko Yano perfectly encapsulates the concept of East Meets West 2019.

Their witty and entertaining performance highlighted them as the world class artists that they are. 

It was a rare opportunity to witness Akiko Yano’s session with a band accompaniment as she usually performs solo. Terumasa joined the Randy Braker’s session as well!

From the left : Terumasa, Akiko)


<Ryota Fujimaki (Vocal/Guitar) / Miton Usui (Vocal/ Guitar/ Keyboard)>

Will selected two very special Japanese singers/ songwriters.

Ryota is known for his composing skills, mixing western music into Japanese pop music, whereas Miton adapted the R&B aspect of western music. Each of the artists expressed their unique talent backed by the band members from the East and West.

One of Will’s missions was introducing Japanese audiences to new talents.

(From the left : Ryota, Miton)


<Ai Kuwabara (Piano)>

In addition to performing as a member of the house band, she displayed her incredible talent through her solo performances. Kuwabara has toured and released two lead albums with Bassist Will Lee and drummer Steve Gadd. Kuwabara is one of the most anticipated up-and-coming Japanese jazz pianists. She is also well-received by American Singer-songwriter Clancy Jones. Her performance was such that it was apparent to everyone witnessing, that she would soon become an international super star.


◆“Soul Man” Sam Moore sings enthusiastically

The final performance of the first day and the last day were performed by legendary soul singer Sam Moore. The contrast between his rustic seated position and his vibrant voice only emphasized how powerful of a singer this man truly is, filling the hall with the true soul of Jazz. 

His renditions of the famous music masterpieces such as “Hold On”, “Soul Man” captured audience’s heart.

He had hip damage this year and rejected the offer initially but Will’s Passionate approach successfully brought the legend to the stage. After his final song John Lenon’s “Imagine”, he received a well deserved standing ovation. Moore is one of the original ambassadors of soul music and his performance was one of the highlights of East Meets West 2019.


◆Finale “Freedom Jazz Dance”

At the end of the performances, the artists played the famous Jazz song “Freedom Jazz Dance” all together where each had an improvised solo part in their chosen instrument.

This event has created an amazing “playground” for the festivals musicians to demonstrate the possibility of crossing several music genres, cultures and ages. It also showcases the importance of connection between genres such as Jazz, Soul to J-pop music whilst simultaneously sharing this wisdom from our older generations to the young up and coming artists. 

Each artist performed their unique talents and Will successfully created this space for the artists to share their music senses and personality. We can’t wait to see what he will create next.


(Write : Eisuke Sato, Photos : Ryo Higuchi)