For the first time ever, the critically acclaimed Japanese acapella jazz group Jammin’ Zeb is coming to the United States, and it’s a momentous occasion for Northwood’s Timberwolves; they’re coming to perform with Northwood’s Chamber Singers.
Composed of first tenor Kojiro Suzuki, second tenor Nisawa “Lensei” Kyosei, baritone Nakamitsu “Steve” Fu, and bass Nishiwaki “Simon” Shiomon, the four singers of Jammin’ Zeb all possess impressive musical backgrounds; each member has absolute pitch, or the ability to name and reproduce any given note, and three out of the four members have studied music at distinguished universities.
The group formed in 2007 and has worked tirelessly ever since, releasing 10 albums and numerous singles in the span of 10 years and earning a popular reputation in Japan through constant live performances and guest appearances in schools in support of the musical arts. Their curious name, “Jammin’ Zeb,” has an interesting history derived from the zebra, the group’s mascot.
“The ‘Zeb,’ short for ‘zebra,’ of our name represents our desire to transcend the borders of culture and skin culture through our music in hopes for a more harmonious world,” Suzuki said. “In addition, the zebra’s black-and-white patterns evokes the black-and-white keys of the piano, and the ‘J’ and ‘Z’ in Jammin’ Zeb suggest the word ‘jazz’!”
In line with their values, Jammin’ Zeb has performed for myriad international crowds, including a concert in Indonesia with Indonesian artist Andien and an audience with Caroline Kennedy, the United States Ambassador to Japan. Surprisingly, the group came into contact with Northwood High School through the use of social media, after they discovered a video on YouTube of the school’s acapella group Northwood Pride performing a cover of their song “Night And Day” at the 2016 Northwood Pops Concert.
“From the discovery of the video, coincidental interaction began,” a Jammin’ Zeb representative said. “It was proposed to hold a performance in California with the school, and it became an opportunity for creative interaction with local people, cultural exchange and a memorable first American performance by Jammin’ Zeb.”