Innovating Through Artistry

Monday’s Journey

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, WEBSITES & BLOGS on October 6, 2008 at 10:07 am

I met Monday Mariano at Interlochen Arts Academy summer camp back in the late 70’s. First we lived together as cabin mates outside in the woods, during an 8 week summer session with a bunch of other young female musicians, and then we went on to play together in orchestra at Interlochen, the very next year, during our time together at the Arts Academy for high school. In fact Monday lived right down the hall from me for most of my time at the Academy and I knew her fairly well.

But these day Monday goes my Monday Michiru. After graduating from IAA, in 1987 Monday was scouted by a young Japanese movie director, Shinji Somai, to appear as a lead in his movie Hikaru Onna (“Luminous Woman”) about an opera singer. Shinji Somai is known in in Japan for casting unknowns who had never had previous experience in acting, and with a lead role in hand, Monday decided to move to Japan to coincide with the filming of the movie which, by the request of its producer, debuted her to the Japanese public under the name Michiru Akiyoshi.

The film entered the International Tokyo Film Festival in 1987, earning honorable mention for Best Actress, as well as Best New Actress awards from Kinema Junpo, The Japan Academy, and the Yokohama Film Festival. At the urging of her management company in Japan, she continued in her newfound and unexpected acting career which now expanded to included theatre and television, hosting her own radio programs (J-Wave, FM Tokyo, etc.), modeling for major commercial ads (Kohdansha, Yubinchokin, NTT, and most recently for Four Roses), and appearing on television as a “personality.”

She even tried her hand at journalism, with a regular page in the Tokyo Journal, and a ground breaking article “What Is Jazz” which she conceptualized herself, interviewing legendary jazz artists such as Don Cherry, John Lewis, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter and many others, as well as those in the new wave of jazz-inspired commercial music, such as Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Digable Planets, Guru, Gilles Peterson, etc for Switch Magazine.

It was in 1991 that she finally had the opportunity to get back to making music. By 1993, Monday steadily began recording and releasing albums in Japan and later in Europe, Australia, and South America, both solo and as a featured singer/writer, collaborating with such groups and artists such as DJ Krush, Mondo Grosso, Kyoto Jazz Massive, Basement Jaxx, UA, Masters At Work, Joe Clausell, Lisa Ono and many others. She has also produced and remixed tracks for artists such as Mondo Grosso, Wyolica, Soul Source Productions and Angelica.

While she is best known for being one of the pioneers of the acid jazz movement in Japan in the early 90s, and later as one of the few women in Japan’s underground club scene, she has undoubtedly crossed over and beyond the scope of club music to a style that is undeniably hers, which you can hear on Monday’s website.

Monday has appeared in numerous music festivals and clubs both in Japan and Europe, including the Greater Tokyo Music Festival at Honmonji, Tokyo (2003), the Okayama Jazz Festival (2003), the Blue Note Clubs in New York and throughout Japan, the Newport Jazz Festival in Madarao (1999), The Baltic Jazz Festival (1999), North Sea Jazz Festival (1997), Montreux Jazz Festival (1997), Stuttgart Jazz Festival (1997), The Phoenix Festival (1996), Beppu Jazz Festival (1995).

Monday was born in Tokyo, Japan to jazz pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi and her now divorced husband, jazz saxophonist Charlie Mariano. She is currently working with internet label ArtistShare on her project “Flow” and has released several albums through ArtistShare.

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