Asian Improv aRts Midwest, the region’s leading Asian American cultural arts organization, is proud to present the 20th Anniversary season of the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival.

For two decades, the CAAJF has featured the leading voices in contemporary, progressive Asian American music at leading venues across Chicago.  The critically acclaimed event has held a key role in highlighting and documenting the significant role that Asian Americans and their collaborators have made in contributing to the city’s historic and vibrant musical landscape. 

The 20th Anniversary CAAJF will be no different, and features leading figures in Chicago’s Asian American jazz and creative music scenes.  The 20th Anniversary CAAJF takes place over two months, from October 2 – November 30, with 4 performances at 4 venues, including a special show, presented at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana in partnership with the Sudden Sound Concert Series.


October 2, Friday

Yoko Noge and Jazz Me Blues

5:30 pm,  Free
International House
University of Chicago
1414 East 59th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637

* Co-sponsored by International House Global Voices Program

October 9, Friday

Tatsu Aoki’s The MIYUMI Project

Amplifying a Necessary Space: Sounding Out 20 Years of Chicago’s Asian American Jazz Festival

featuring special guest, Francis Wong

5:30 pm, Free
Gray Center Lab @ University of Chicago
929 E. 60th St., Ste 112, Chicago, IL 60637

Concert and discussion featuring members of the MIYUMI Project and Will Faber (Chicago Studies/ PhD Candidate in Music), Francis Wong

October 23, Friday

SuWan Choi / Jeff Chan Duet and
Tatsu Aoki’s The MIYUMI Project

8:30 pm,  $10
3111 N. Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

October 29, Thursday

Jeff Chan’s Chicago Clarinet Conglomerate

7:00, Free
Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion
University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana
500 E. Peabody Dr
Champaign, IL 61820

In conjunction with Sudden Sound Concert Series

November 30, Monday

Yoko Noge and Jazz Me Blues with
Jeff Chan’s Cultural Arts Quartet

7 pm,  $10
Chicago Jazz Showcase
806 S. Plymouth
Chicago, IL 60605


Yoko Noge and Jazz Me Blues
Yoko Noge and Jazz Me Blues
Yoko Noge, a transplant from Osaka, Japan, moved to Chicago in 1984 to pursue her interest in blues music. She has been chosen as “Chicagoan of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune and as one of “100 Japanese People the World Respects” by Newsweek Japan.
In 2014, she was awarded the Foreign Minister of Japan’s commendation for “promotion of understanding between Japan and the U.S.A.”

Yoko’s band, the Jazz Me Blues, formed in 1987, melds an incredible mix of Chicago Blues, jazz, Japanese music and Yoko’s compositions. The band, composed of Yoko and five legendary Chicago musicians, has performed at the Chicago Blues Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, and the Asian American Jazz Festival. She tours in Europe and Japan regularly.

Jeff Chan's Cultural Arts Quartet
Jeff Chan's Cultural Arts Quartet
Jeff Chan’s Cultural Arts Quartet, led by Chicago saxophonist/composer, Jeff Chan, brings together some of the leading figures of the internationally recognized and renowned Chicago music scene: saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Edward Wilkerson Jr., bassist Tatsu Aoki and drummer Avreeayl Ra. A dynamic and exciting ensemble, the Quartet draws from a wide-ranging sonic palette with influences that include straight-ahead and avant garde jazz, modern composition and traditional music from around the world.

Dedicated to the performance of Chan’s original compositions, traditional pieces and improvisation, each member of the band is a critically-acclaimed artist in his own right and contributes his distinctive creative perspective to establish a cohesive group sound.

Jeff Chan's Chicago Clarinet Conglomerate
Jeff Chan's Chicago Clarinet Conglomerate
Chicago multi-instrumentalist/composer Jeff Chan formed the Chicago Clarinet Conglomerate in 2009 to deeply investigate multiple clarinet voicings for improvisation and composed works.

The ensemble features AACM artists, acclaimed reedists Mwata Bowden and Ed Wilkerson, Jr., along with Asian Improv aRts Midwest founder and executive director Tatsu Aoki on bass and shamisen. Their eponymous debut CD was released on Asian Improv Records in 2011.

Francis Wong
Francis Wong
Few musicians are as accomplished as Francis Wong, considered one of “the great saxophonists of his generation” by the late jazz critic Phil Elwood. A prolific recording artist, Wong is featured on more than forty titles as a leader and sideman.

For over two decades he has performed his innovative brand of jazz and creative music for audiences in North America, Asia, and Europe with such with such luminaries as Jon Jang, Tatsu Aoki, Genny Lim,William Roper, Bobby Bradford, John Tchicai, James Newton, Joseph Jarman, Don Moye and the late Glenn Horiuchi.

SuWan Choi / Jeff Chan Duet
SuWan Choi / Jeff Chan Duet
Chicago saxophonist/composer Jeff Chan and international pungmul (traditional Korean percussion) artist Suwan Choi are creating a duet language that is informed by musical forms that include jazz, new/creative music, improvisation and traditional Korean music. Through a long-term artist’s residency based in Chicago, Mr. Choi is working to heighten the profile of the Korean traditional performing arts as well as train a new generation of Korean Americans in this cultural form.

He partners with Jeff Chan, who has been an active contributor to the Asian American artistic community and the broader musical landscape since moving to Chicago in 2002. Their performance will include extemporaneous duets, solo work and a new duet composition they are developing.

Tatsu Aoki's The MIYUMI Project
Tatsu Aoki's The MIYUMI Project
Jazz Heroes 2015 Award Winner Tatsu Aoki Celebrates 20 years of Asian American Jazz in Chicago with his award wining MIYUMI PROJECT

Widely recognized for his ability to adapt Japanese traditional music and the thundering taiko drumming to the context of Chicago avant-garde jazz, Aoki has been playing jazz music in Chicago for nearly 40 years. Aoki’s East-Meet-West-styled MIYUMI Project is a collaboration between African American and Asian American jazz artists performing large-scale works of traditional and contemporary sounds and rhythms.

The performance will feature Aoki (bass), Mwata Bowden (woodwind), Edward Wilkerson (woodwind) , Jaime Kempkers (cello) , KIOTO (taikodrums), Coco Elysses (percussion) and Avreeayl Ra (drums)

Asian Improv aRts Midwest

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