Masahi Umeki at Jeremy’s Cafė: A Report from Yokohama
December 16, 2017 (No Comments) by

We previously reported on the opening of Jeremy’s Cafė, dedicated to the late Jeremy Steig by his widow Asako in Yokohama, Japan where Steig resided until his passing in 2016.

Our correspondent Mike Chalmers travelled to Yokohama where he heard the first of three performances scheduled at the cafė, this one by Masahi Umeki.

Masahi Umeki and accompanist at Jeremy's Cafė, Yokohama

Masahi Umeki and accompanist at Jeremy’s Cafė, Yokohama

He sends this report:

“Hello from Yokohama!

I arrived this morning, and this afternoon found my way through a jet-lagged haze to Jeremy’s Café, where Asako Steig hosted the first in a planned series of informal flute performances.  Today the flute player was Masahi Umeki, who gave a delightful performance on his Sankyo alto flute, with piano accompaniment.  

Most of Masahi Umeki’s performance consisted of self-penned pieces I think (there were no introductions between tunes, and while I had a chat with him and his accompanist afterwards,  with their lack of English and my lack of Japanese, I wasn’t able to learn much detail.)  Most of his pieces followed a format of a theme followed by improvisation on alto flute and piano – jazz, but with a slightly New Age, Paul Horn vibe.  The one piece I did recognise was Jaco PastoriusThree Views Of A Secret played pretty straight, but very eloquently.  He played with a lovely tone, using the full range of the instrument, and great dynamic range too – he brought it right down when the piano was soloing, but filled the room when he chose to.  He wasn’t using any amplification in the small performance space, which was a plus.

Masahi Umeki at Jeremy's Cafė

Masahi Umeki at Jeremy’s Cafė

The gallery has a number of Jeremy Steig’s paintings and drawings for sale (it ran in the family – his father, William Steig, invented the character Shrek.  And Jeremy was recruited to provide the flute music played by the Pied Piper in Shrek Forever After. During which he reprises his performance of “Howling For Judy” – which previously had a second life when sampled by The Beastie Boys…)

So there’s quite a shrine to jazz flute in this corner of Japan!

All the best,


Flautist and airline pilot, Mike Chalmers is a member of the London Jazz Flute Big Band. He also took two of the pictures of Masahi Umeki .

Additional views of Jeremy’s Café in Yokohama below, reproduced from Facebook:












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