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Yoko Takemura, Kansas City Jazz Ambassador

Each year, on August 29th Yoko Takemura places a beautiful bouquet of cut flowers on Bird’s grave. She does this from her home in Tokyo, with the help of the Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors. This year the beautiful arrangement was created by Hill’s Flower Shop in the Englewood section of Independence, MO.

Yoko Takemura and Jay McShann

For more than 2 decades, Yoko Takemura has made as many pilgrimages as possible to Kansas City from Japan. She did this specifically to listen to jazz and to immerse herself in the local arts scene.

Yoko writes about the intersection of jazz and fashion for a magazine in Tokyo. A few years ago, a Kansas City gallery did an opening of Yoko’s pottery. Yoko is a talented artist who paints, draws, and is not afraid to express herself through art.

Yoko Takemura works closely with Chuck Haddix of the Marr Sound Archive. She had a deep interest in Chuck’s book about Bird and she opened distribution options for the book in Japan, a country that follows American jazz closely.

Yoko & Linda

Yoko reports on international projects created by Kansas City’s finest musical artists. There is a video of a Fashion Show, featuring trumpeter Hermon Mehari and others intermingling with models, playing their instruments, and wondering around the stage, as the lovely girls showed off the clothes. A fascinating mix of jazz and commerce.

Yoko and her husband, both jazz fans, attended a 1990 concert with the Jay McShann Trio. In 2019 she put together a tribute to her late husband, working tirelessly with record producer Taka Watanabe they painstakingly recreated, a live recording and subsequently released the recording of the event. Jay McShann live in Tokyo 1990 is available worldwide.

McShann Sisters at Bird's Grave

Ahmad Alaadeen was an avid chef. Alaadeen always cooked the finest American food for her when Yoko came to town. Dean Hampton, who designed and operated KCJA’s website for many years could be seen on the scene, around town with Yoko and at times, longtime Basie Band trombonist Mel Wanzo, during her annual visits. Yoko has made many trips to Kansas City.

This year Yoko Takemura sent the BIRD LIVES print of a pen and watercolor drawing of Charlie Parker. It is a striking likeness. With her permission we’re sharing it with you in honor of the 2022 SPOTLIGHT: Charlie Parker.

The KC Jazz Ambassadors send a note of gratitude and thanks to Yoko Takemura for her dedication to sharing our music with millions of people that may not have heard our music without her help.

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