“EAST MEETS WEST 2019” — quite literally, the event will function as a place where Western musicians will meet the Eastern i.e. Japanese musicians – to create sound, to make music and to generate new values of music. Sure, we have the Pacific Ocean between us and a whole other difference, but the event aspires to expand the musical horizons.
Will Lee will be working as the music director for such phenomenal event. The sought-after bassist in New York started his career in Japan when he formed "The 24th Street Band" with Hiram Bullock. The band paved the way for the success of crossover jazz and fusion in the nation; hence Will Lee has a deep connection with Japan.
The talented musician first came to Japan in 1980 with "The 24th Street Band". He's visited Japan more than 30 times since then for various supports and performances – and he is acknowledged as a truly international performer, who knows every nook and cranny of the music industry in New York and the sensitivity of the Japanese. As a matter of fact, the very first record Lee purchased was Kyu Sakamoto's "Sukiyaki - Ue wo Muite Arukou" which topped the American pop chart in 1963. Who else can we possibly ask for as the organizer for “EAST MEETS WEST”?
“The ‘EAST MEETS WEST’ is pretty much something I’ve always dreamed about. Many Western musicians do visit Japan, but they’re usually on their own. I’ve always wanted to play with Japanese artists but I couldn’t really have the chance. So this is exactly what I’ve been waiting for!”
The turning point in Lee's career came when he worked for The David Letterman Show and other TV programs. His experience is like no other. Lee acquired the flexibility to collaborate with a wide range of renowned musicians and expanded networks with them.
“I think that’s how I learned the best way to support other musicians and how to make things work. At the same time, I must admit that I am a fan of music before anything, and I love any kinds of music. And I think this is the most important factor in being the music director of ‘EAST MEETS WEST’.”
The trust Will Lee has from his counterparts is quite incredible. He invited multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi to join two of his performances in Japan, and afterward Carmassi became a part of Pat Metheny's Unity Band (in his album "Kin" in 2014). Why did a world-famous artist like Metheny allow Carmassi to join his band? “Will called me,” he says. “And Will told me about this amazing guy who wants to be in my band”. Just like that? Is that what he’d do if any other musical peers would recommend you someone? Metheny’s answer is no. “The only reason I accepted the offer was because Will introduced me to Carmassi – and I trust Will”. Will Lee, indeed, is the musician for musicians.
Needless to say, Will Lee himself gave offers to the musicians who will be performing in “EAST MEETS WEST 2019”.
“I feel like I hit a home run every time I got a firm ‘yes’ from the musicians. I also wanted to make the house band fair and equal for both Americans and Japanese, not just the front-runners. I want the event to reach out to 2020, and it’ll be amazing if we can host a ‘WEST MEETS EAST’ in the US in the future.”
The versatile director thinks all the artists that will be in the show are preeminent world-class musicians. “I told them to bring in whatever they think is fantastic. I just want to make the best music with the best people. Of course I put a lot of effort in choosing the greatest house bands, and thanks to them, the show will keep on running.”
Songs that will be played at the event could be best-known works of the artists and famous works they have in common. The “EAST MEETS WEST 2019” will be showcased in four programs, exploring the freedom, the joy and the wonder of music.
“I’m still negotiating with the artists on what we will be doing. So many of them are so open-minded, which makes things difficult at times. Anyway, I’m sure that the event will allow diversified music genres to intertwine with each other. Mr. Terumasa Hino would be a good example. He's made so many different kinds of albums, and I want him to show his diversity. I'm also excited that he'll be collaborating with Randy (Brecker). Japanese people are really eager and have a lot of curiosity in music. I can't wait until I get feedbacks from everyone.”
Will Lee definitely does not look like a 66-year-old. He’s fit and robust, and moreover has a special charm. What’s his secret?
Oh, forever will he be the boy into music! “EAST MEETS WEST 2019” organized by such enchanting man shall cast a musical spell on whoever that will attend.
Sunrise Promotion Tokyo
(10: 00 ~ 18: 00 on the whole day)