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Tipitina's Sponsors Japanese Youth Jazz Band For Satchmo Festival

Eileen Fleming

Some teenage Japanese musicians who lost their instruments in the 2011 tsunami are in New Orleans to perform this weekend. It’s part of a cultural exchange run by the Tipitina’s Foundation.

The marching band of the newly combined Walker and Landry high schools performed for some special visitors this week.

The visitors are nineteen teenagers — mostly girls — from an area of northern Japan devastated by the earthquake and tsunami two years ago. They received replacement instruments last fall from Tipitina’s and the Wonderful World of Jazz Foundation.

One is 13-year-old trumpet player Amane Iwabuchi. Through an interpreter, she gave her first impression of New Orleans.

“Full of music in the city… and the pretty and beautiful — she loves it.”  

Fifteen-year-old Jaron Williams was a student at O. Perry Walker when he visited the recovering Japanese communities last October with the exchange program. He said that, despite the language barrier, there was communication through music.

“Everybody was sort of into it and smiling and clapping and everything, so I think we really, like, lifted their spirits a little.”

The Japanese band is called the Swing Dolphins. They’ll be performing at 12:15 p.m. Saturday at the Old US Mint as part of Satchmo Summer Fest.

On Sunday they’ll be at Tiptina’s for a free student music showcase, and on Monday, at 4:30 p.m., at the Steamboat Natchez Landing.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.