Something wonderful happened last week. People smiled, and somehow, intuitively understood that cultural differences need not be walls, but rather doorways. It seems almost inevitable when you see Jinta la MVTA perform. After all, how often do you get to hear four really good Japanese musicians perform klezmer music, sing in Yiddish, and then rip through some Frank Zappa and jazz compositions? Not to mention the percussionist, Miwa Wataru is wearing a kimono, fishnet stockings, gogo boots and has a toy bird in her hair while her husband, Okuma, with clarinet in hand looks like he just stepped out of the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club cover. If you looked hard enough, you may have noticed that the tuba player was wearing lederhosen. Try not smiling.
Over a thousand folks saw them at the free lunchtime concert at the Greenway on Wednesday and they clearly enjoyed the show, smiling, tapping their feet, dancing, and just happily wondering “what the heck is this?” But the vibe at The Burren was even more intense which seems inevitable when you present Japanese klezmer in an Irish bar.
The sold out show had such a wonderfully eclectic audience. You had klezmer lovers, ethnomusicologists, families and Burren Backroom regulars. We even had a table of Irish and English tourists who had heard about the Burren and couldn’t imagine what a Japanese klezmer band would sound like. They loved it! As did a person (Russian, I suspect) who was sitting behind me who couldn’t stop beaming with joy. Heck, I thought he would break down in tears when he heard Miwa sing Papirosn.
It just affirms what Longfellow once wrote, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Can I get an amen?!
For a complete photo album of Jinta’s visit to Boston, click here.
Our deepest appreciation goes out to Tommy McCarthy, Tom Ricci and the folks at the Burren, the incredible staff at The Rose Kennedy Greenway, and our friends at the Young Adult Division of Combined Jewish Philanthropies.