“WaFoo,” which is made of two Japanese kanji-characters “Wa” and “Foo,” stands for “Winds of Japan” or “Japanese style.” The prototype of this music ensemble was formed in 2001 by four Japanese musicians, under the concept of “Beauty of the music across the East and the West.” After a numbers of performances praised by many audiences in New York area, in 2004, the ensemble added more talents to broaden the scope of artistry and became WaFoo.
WaFoo is not only a performance group but also a group of active award-winning composers with a variety of music careers and backgrounds, which makes this ensemble very unique. All the repertories of WaFoo are their compositions or new interpretations of Japanese folk music created under the one strong concept, “Blending Japanese philosophy, such as Zen, Shinto and Confucianism, into a variety of music styles to create lyrical, aesthetic and delightful sound for body and soul.”
Major Performances Include: Haruichiban Japanese Music Festival (Drom, Manhattan, Mar. 2008); White Plains Cherry Blossom Festival (White Plains, May 2005 ~ 2008); Nagasaki Hiroshima Reflections by SI OutLoud (Staten Island, Apr. 2005); Greenwich; SeptemberFest (Greenwich, CT, Sep. 2005); NYC Culture Fest 2004 at Battery Park (Manhattan, Oct. 2004); NYPL Concert Series (Staten Island, Queens, (2008 ~ 2009); Talent on the Terrace by Greenbelt Nature Center (Staten Island, 2008 ~ 2009); WaFoo Seasonal Concerts at St. Peter’s Church (Staten Island, 2005 ~ 2009).
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Born and raised in New York City, Darrell Smith has been dazzling the stages for the past 16 years. A Staten Island native, Darrell had the good fortune of being accepted into the esteemed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School (a.k.a. "The Fame School") for percussion performance. He exceeded all expectations while attending LaGuardia and after graduation, attended The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, achieving a Bachelor's Degree in Jazz Performance. Darrell is a professional drummer who has performed with some of the most in-demand musicians around today and has graced his presence on many of the most world-famous stages. Some of his instruction comes from those of exceptional caliber including Kenny Washington, Ali Jackson, Dafnis Prieto, Bernard Purdie, and Billy Hart, to name a few.
Not only is Mr. Smith a masterful drummer, but a fine instructor as well. He teaches privately with Jazz at Lincoln Center, Staten Island Academy, and Victory Studios.
Currently, Darrell is attending New Jersey City University soon to receive his Masters in Performance and is looking to further his education to ultimately obtain his Ph.D. while growing as an elite musician among his peers.
(Gandharva) Earl Sauls (Acoustic Bass) has been a professional musician for over thirty five years and has played with some of the all-time jazz greats such as Stan Getz, Howard McGhee, Woody Herman, Pepper Adams, Chuck Wayne, Warren Vache and many more. He is also featured on recordings by Joshua Breakstone, Rob Reich, Peter Prisco and others.
Earl currently freelances in the New York / New Jersey area.
Jeannine Otis /Jahneen has an eclectic array of experiences as a performer, educator and music director. She has performed all over the world as a vocalist, including the Pori Jazz Festival with Heikki Sarmanto. Her segment at the Pori Jazz Festival was recently included in a film about that festival with Jazz greats such as Miles Davis, the Brecker Brothers and Maynard Ferguson. Her recording with Mr. Sarmanto and the Helsinki Philharmonic entitled Magic Songs, is available on Warner European Records. In addition, Ms. Otis has a long–standing collaboration with jazz great Vishnu Wood, working on music education projects under the auspices of the United Way as part of Safari East Cultural Productions, founded by Vishnu Wood.
She is the Director of Music at the historic Saint Marks Church in the Bowery, as well as Theaterworks USA’s yearly production of Freedom Train, a piece about the young Harriet Tubman that travels all over the country including TownHall, the Fox Theater in Atlanta, and The Grand Ole Opry. Ms. Otis is the only black recipient of the Presser Music Foundation Award from Wellesley College as well as a Teaching Fellow award from Emerson College, Boston. She continues to collaborate internationally, nationally, and locally as a consultant with arts programming while performing and teaching.
David Jones has been playing piano almost every day for the last 30 years in his home in St. George, that overlooks Curtis High School and, beyond that, New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. He comes from the avant garde wing of the great experiment, known as American Jazz. David played on the West Coast with bass clarinetist Patrick Wallace and the late drummer Joe Kelly in the group New Bay Ensemble, and on the east cast with Philadelphia-based group, Image. In his travels, from east coast to west and back again, David has enjoyed playing all kinds of music in every setting.