Art Cafe CD Release Party

Last Friday was my cd release party at a very nice cafe in Tokyo called Art Cafe. It was a packed house and it was great to see some new faces as well as some regulars at the show. I played basically all the songs on my new cd "Cinematic Piano 3" plus a few standards like "Libertango and " New Cinema Paradise." Playing a 2 hour concert solo is a lot of fun but also a lot of work. I was a little flat in the middle of the first set but by the second set I was really in a groove and was playing the same songs I usually play but at a higher level than normal. That's the absolute best feeling as a performer. I think I could have gone another 2 hours the way the crowd was getting into it. Thank you everyone who came for a very special show!
先週の金曜日に恵比寿にある「Art Cafe and Friends」という素敵なカフェでCDの発売記念ライブをやりました!ほぼ満席で僕のライブによくきてくれる人と初めての人がたくさんいて嬉しかったです。新しいCDに入っている曲の全曲といつも弾く「New Cinema Paradise」や「Libertango」のスタンダードナンバーもやりました。ソロで弾く2時間コンサートはとても楽しいのですが、大変です。ファーストステージの真ん中に思ったよりうまく行かなかった曲があったのですが、セコンドステージから雰囲気にのって、いつもよりうまく演奏しました。演奏家として最高の気分でした。お客さんの反応などのおかげで後2時間引き続けられた感じがしました。ライブに来てくれるお客さんの皆さんに本当に感謝しています。


Cinematic Piano 3 is Released!


今日はCinematic Piano 3の発売日です!日本に来て6枚目のCDです。今回は15曲入り全曲ソロで録音しました。このアラバマは前のアラバマよりピアニストとしての音楽性を発揮していると思います。有名な曲「夢をやぶれて」「いつか王子様が」「愛の夢」などの曲は入っているのですが、凄く有名じゃないけど大好きな曲「ミザルー」「夕日のガンマンのテーマ」「海の上のピアニスト」などの曲も入っています。オリジナル2曲も入っています。

今回写真を撮ってくれたのは僕の兄「Ben Koller」でした。2ー3年前からカメラマンになったばかりなのに、凄く良い写真を撮ります。彼の写真を是非チェックして下さい。



Today is the release of my new CD Cinematic Piano 3. This is my 6th cd since coming to Japan. All 15 songs on the new cd were recorded solo. There are some very famous songs on the new cd like "I Dreamed a Dream," "someday My Prince Will Come," and "Libestraum."
There are also some personal favorites that aren't so famous like "Misirlou," "The Good The Bad and The Ugly Theme," as well as "The Legend of 1900." There are also 2 originals on the CD. 

This time my brother did the photography for the CD. He's only been a photographer for a few years but he takes some amazing shots. Please check out some of his other work.

I have a very special CD Release Party coming up at a great cafe in Ebisu called Art Cafe. Come hear the new arrangements on a beautiful Steinway Grand Piano while eating some very delicious food or enjoying a glass of wine.
The show is on Friday, November 29th from 7pm.


Halloween live


I played a Halloween show tonight with Yu Manabe on violin. Yu dressed up as zorro even though he had know idea who zorro was. I dressed up as my alter ego character otaku. About 8 customers came dressed up in costume. I played one of my old originals called fridge vampire and it was the perfect theme song for the night. It was a really fun show. I am going to do it again next year so start thinking about whAt you're going to wear!

On my way to the show. 


Cafe Beulmans

昨日は成城学園前にある『Cafe Beulmans』という居心地の良いヨーロパにあるようなカフェでじめてソロライブをやりました。柔らかい音のあるアップライトヤマハピアノで演奏しました。20人ぐらいが入って、一番最初から一番最後までずっと真剣に聞いてくれて、ピアニストにとって最高の雰囲気でした。いつもよりピアノの近くにお客さんが座っていて、最初に本の少し緊張していたのですが、すぐ慣れて本当に楽しい演奏でした。出来るだけに口ずさむ声を大きく出さないようにしていたのですが、時々音楽にのって無意識に声が出たと思います。

I played a solo show yesterday at a very cozy Cafe called Cafe Beulmans that looks like a cafe belongs in Europe. I played on a Yamaha Upright piano that had a very soft and warm sound. About 20 people came and from my first note to my last note they listened with a lot of intensity. It was a great atmosphere to perform in. There were a lot of people sitting much closer to the piano than I am used to and at first I was a little nervous but I got used to it really quickly and had a great time. Because people were so close to the piano I tried hard not to hum as loud as usual but I couldn't help it at certain times during the show. I definitely want to play here again.
Thank you so much to everyone who made it last night!

Enjoy the very artistic photos that the owner took last night.


Center Kita Music Festival


Today I played at a music festival in Yokohama. Last month I had a gig get cancelled because of a typhoon and because there was a typhoon approaching Tokyo this morning I was really worried this gig might get cancelled too but fortunately they went ahead as planned. This morning the rain was really pouring down but by around 12pm it cleared up and by the time I performed it was halfway decent weather. I was supposed to perform at a nice outdoor plaza but because of the rain they moved the event inside the station building. When I woke up this morning I was really worried that no one would show up in this weather but thankfully my students and their families, friends and fans plus many people I have never met before came. They also really got into my performance which makes it so much fun to play.
Being from the desert I am not used to the amount of rain we have had in Tokyo this past month or so. I really hope we get a break from it and get some nice sunny weather for a little while.


Kawaguchi Lake


This week I went fishing for the first time in a while to Kawaguchi Lake. When I was little I used to go fishing all the time with my dad and my brother but since coming to Japan I haven't had many chances to go. The weather was terrible but it was so much fun to catch a bass after such a long time. I had a chance to catch a really big one but unfortunately it got away. I was guided by a bass pro named Mr. Shibata and he was awesome! He even wrote a blog about me on his blog. Check it out if you like.
In addition to the fishing trip I did some other sight seeing around Mt Fuji although because the weather was terrible the entire time I wasn't able to see Mt. Fuji except for a miraculous 10 seconds where the clouds moved just enough to see it. In spite of the bad weather it was a great trip!

Not the big one that got away but still fun to catch!




Cinematic Piano 3 Recording

This week I went to a beautiful hall up in the mountains to record my next CD. This time I decided to do a solo piano recording. Usually recording is a lot of fun but also very stressful because you usually have a limited time to get the sound that you want and you have to manage working with many musicians, producers and engineers. This time was very different. 
First off it's solo piano so I only had to worry about myself. I also didn't have to explain any parts or write out music for anyone else. I still do love working with other musicians though. 
Secondly, I had 3 full days in the studio which I knew was more time than I needed so it gave me a sense of freedom to experiment with different ideas. 
Thirdly, I was the producer and there was only 1 engineer (Gen Tanabe) who is amazing and I never had to concern myself at all with any of the technical aspects of the recording. 
Just relax and make music in a beautiful sounding hall on an amazing concert Steinway grand piano. 
The CD will be released on November 6th and I have to admit that I think this CD exhibits more aspects of what I can do musically than any other CD I have made.
Here are the tracks from the CD. It's going to be a full 80 minute CD. 
The CD will be released in Japan on November 6th. 
I will be playing some of the new songs live for the first time on September 27th at Blues Alley in Meguro.

9月27日の『Blues Alley』ライブで新しいCDに入っている曲をはじめて発表します。

I Dreamed a Dream
The Entertainer
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Cinematic Piano Theme
Magic Waltz and Playing Love from "The Legend of 1900"
The Legend of 1900 Tribute
Someday My Prince Will Come
Misirlou from "Pulp Fiction"
As Time Goes By
Chopin's Ballade #1 from "The Pianist"
Libestraum from "All About Eve"
Samba de Orfeu


My New Band (Double Trio)


Next month I will get to perform for the first time with my new band and I am super excited about it. 
I have always loved playing piano trio but recently I have also loved playing with strings. I think the combination of the typical jazz trio (piano, bass and drums) and the typical classical trio (piano, cello and violin) makes for a really fun and unique sound. 
The information about our show is at the bottom of the page.
Here are the members of my new band.

                                                                 Patrick Glynn - Bass

Dennis Frehse - Drums

Maiko - Violin

平山織絵 (Orie Hirayama) - Cello

ライブ in 目黒
with Patrick Glynn(ベース)、Dennis Frehse(ドラム)
全席指定 前売り¥4500 /  当日¥5000
ディナー付コース 前売り¥11000 /  当日¥11500
ご予約、お問い合わせはブルースアレイ 03-5740-6041
又は関口紀子  携帯/080-3318-6365  Eメール/admin@jacobkoller.com まで


Annual Piano Recital 発表会


This past weekend I hosted my annual piano recital for my students. This year we had almost twice as many students participating as last year. While everyone played a piece solo I also invited a professional bassist and drummer so my students could get an experience playing in a jazz trio setting. Even the 4 and 5 year old kids were able to keep a steady beat and everyone seemed to do really well. The most important thing was that everyone seemed to have a lot of fun playing music which is my ultimate goal as a teacher. Also my 3 piece piano ensemble got the chance to perform for the first time and both groups did really well.
I feel very lucky to have so many wonderful students.
I'm not sure how I can top this next year but I will come up with something.

Directing the kids piano ensemble.

Directing the adult piano ensemble. I look more like an evangelical preacher though.

I couldn't resist playing with these guys. They both did an amazing job sight reading 32 pieces of music.
二本松義史(Yoshifumi Nihonmatsu) on Drums
山本裕之 Hiroyuki Yamamoto on Bass

Thank you everyone!!!!


Shabu Shabu and Jazz

 I played tonight at a delicious Shabu Shabu restaurant in Roppongi called Shabuzen with Karen Aoki. Because of the special diet I am on I have a difficult time eating out but tonight I had a feast without having to worry. Shabu Shabu is just beef and vegetables that you cook yourself in a hot pot. After the feast we played a short set for a really enthusiastic crowd. 



Katsuben Performance

You know how they used to have a piano player playing along to movies in the theaters before they had sound in the movies. I always thought that would be an interesting gig and yesterday I got the chance to do it for the first time.
I improvised a score to a movie called "The Navigator" starring Buster Keaton while Akiko Sasaki narrated. It was a very interesting experience and made me play in ways I wouldn't usually play. 
Usually a 1 hour show doesn't wear me out but after this 1 hour movie I was really beat. 
We performed at this nice restaurant in Yokohama called Cruise Cruise. 

佐々木亜希子の活弁でBuster Keatonの『ナビゲータ』という映画と映画のスコアをアドリブで弾きました。いつものプレイと全然違うふうに弾けてとても面白い経験でした。普段1時間のライブの後に全然疲れないのですが、この1時間の映画が終わったら、かなり疲れました。横浜のクルーズクルーズというレストランで演奏しました。


3 Piano Jazz Ensemble

今日は僕の新しいプロジェクト『3 Piano Jazz Ensemble』の最後のリハーサルでした。5月に始まって、来週の金曜日(26日)に1年に1度の発表会で両方の組みが演奏します。

Today was the 5th and final rehearsal for my new teaching project called 3 Piano Jazz Ensemble. I started this project back in May and this upcoming Friday both groups will perform at my yearly piano recital.
One of the reasons I began this project is because I find it very difficult to play and teach solo jazz piano. As a pianist you have to be able to fulfill the role of the bass, the harmony and the melody at the same time all while keeping a solid groove. With the 3 piano ensemble I arranged the pieces so each pianist can focus on just 1 part at a time and get a chance to improvise without having to walk a bass line and comp chords.
This was the first experiment with the idea and I am very excited to do it again. I have one group of children ages 6-10 and another group of adults. I think everyone including myself had a good time and got to learn the basics of jazz and improvisation while getting a chance to play with other pianists which is a rare opportunity.
I am sure both groups will do a great job at the big recital on Friday!!!


Recording with Miho Ryu

I spent all day at Dede Studio in Tokyo today recording 3 songs with Miho Ryu. I was in heaven playing a beautiful Steinway. I need to save up so I can get my own Steinway, although if I did I would probably never leave home. Anyway we recorded a really interesting version of Agua de Beber, as well as What a Wonderful World and I'm Not in Love. This studio has the coolest selection of keyboard instruments including a fender Rhodes a Wurlitzer and a Yamaha cp-70. 
This is actually the studio that I recorded my Chopin cd at. 
今日は一日中池袋にあるデデスタジオでRyu Mihoとレコーディングをしました!めちゃきれいなスタインウェイでずっと弾いて、天国みたいでした。お金をいっぱい貯めて、自分のを買いたいのですが、買えば家から出れなくなるかもしれません。とにかく、今日はAgua de Beberのとても面白いアレンジやWonderful WorldやI'm Not in Love. このスタジオで鍵盤楽器のセレクションは半端ないです。Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Yamaha cp-70などあります。三年前に同じスタジオでショパンのCDのレコーディングをしました。


Recording in the Forest

This week I got the opportunity to do a duo recording with my friend and collaborator Yusuke Shima.  
We drove a few hours outside of Tokyo to this amazing hall in the middle of nowhere. Probably the entire population of the village could fit in the size of this hall. Inside the hall they had an immaculate concert Steinway grand that sounded amazing with the natural reverb of the hall. Yusuke's trumpet also sounded amazing with the natural reverb. Shima san's CD will be available on August 6th.



Duo gig with Yusuke Shima

I played an early show this afternoon at one of my favorite jazz cafe in Kawasaki with Yusuke Shima on trumpet. We mostly played songs that we are going to be recording next week for Shima san's new cd. The show was great but I think the highlight of the night was when my 4 your old jazz student Hikaru and I jammed out on the blues. Everyone was clapping in time on 2 and 4 and got really into it. Thanks Hikaru for jamming!



Golden Week in Saga

This past Sunday I played an amazing show with Karen Aoki in the city of Saga in Kyushu. My flight was to Fukuoka so I was under the impression that we were playing there until I arrived at the Fukuoka airport the afternoon of the gig. Karen didn't really mention the details. Although it was her first time to play in Saga it was my 3rd time and I know quite a few people who live there. We played in an old English style building and many people commented that I look liked I belong there.
The show was really special. The atmosphere of the building and the energy from the audience inspired us to play our best. After the show we were treated to some local delicacies like beef tongue.



Driving in Japan

It has been 4 years since I moved to Japan and during that time I have survived just fine without a car and a Japanese driver's license. Most of the time taking a train is far better than driving a car but there are some situations where I really wish I could drive. When I have to roll an 88 key digital piano half a mile to the train station and lug it on a big train is one of those situations. Also when I get the urge to go fishing having a car would give me so many more options as to where I could go.

So I recently decided to transfer my American license to a Japanese license and get a car. Sounds easier said than done. The written test was by far the easiest test I have ever taken. I finished the whole test in less than 5 minutes and I got a perfect score. Then came the driving test. After talking to a couple friends of mine who did the same thing I was convinced I could pass the first time. However what I didn't realize at the time is that I live in the prefecture with the strictest driving center in Japan. On the first try I got nervous and turned the wipers on instead of the blinker and started driving on the right side of the road. Understandably I instantly failed the test. The instructor told me that I had good driving skills but I just need to get used to driving on the left side of the road. So I felt confident that I could pass the second time. I imagined in my mind driving on the left side of the road and turning the blinker on the right. On the day of the test I thought I drove perfectly but to my astonishment I failed again and I didn't really get an explanation why. I talked to others who were also taking the test that day and some of them had taken the test 7 times or more. So I decided to do some research and found a DVD that gives very specific instructions on how to pass this test and what the instructors are looking for. Checking the front and back and under the car before you get in to make sure it is safe to drive is very important. Also leaning forward at stop signs and looking over your shoulder instead of using the mirrors. I tried to do everything exactly as they said on the DVD and to my surprise I passed the very next time. After the second time I thought it would take me 10 times to pass so I was so relieved that I didn't have to go backs there. If you have to do the foreign driver's license exchange test at Futamatagawa in Kanagawa Prefecture I highly recommend getting this DVD to save yourself lots of time, money and frustration.




Cafe Canon 3 Year Anniversary

I played yesterday for the 3rd anniversary of one my favorite little cafe's near where I live called Cafe Canon. I played their for the grand opening and for the 1st and 2nd anniversary parties. Last night I got to play with my friend and collaborator Yusuke Shima. He sounded great as always. We got a chance to try some of his new arrangements that we will be recording for his new CD next month. I will be back at Cafe Canon on Saturday, June 8th at 730pm so mark your calendar.

『Cafe Canon』という家の近くにある僕の大好きな小さいなカフェの3周年パーティーの為に昨日の夜に演奏しました。グランドオペンのパーティーや一周年と二周年のパーティーの為にも演奏しました。昨日は友達でありコーラボレータでもある『島裕介』と共演しました。彼はいつも通り素敵でした。島さんの新しいリーダーアルバムの為の新しいアレンジをたくさんやりました。来月一緒に山梨県でレーコディングをします。次のCafe Canonライブは6月8日(19時半スタート)です。遊びに来てね!!!