< strong>BY DEAN WONG
After three decades of entertaining music fans in Seattle, the Northwest and around the world, smooth jazz artist Deems Tsutakawa released his milestone “Greatest Hits” CD earlier this year.
Deems is an icon in the Asian American community, entertaining fans at restaurants, bars, street festivals and community gatherings. Deems headlines the International Examiner’s annual “Arts, Etc.” event on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Port of Seattle Pier 69.
As his music grew, Deems picked up fans around the Northwest, then caught the ear of jazz listeners across the nation and overseas.
Deems has produced six albums and CDs. His friends and associates suggested the idea of a CD with all his best songs, representing over 30 years in the music business. “Greatest Hits” has 14 tunes.
“Some are personal favorites,” said Deems.
All the classic Deems’ compositions are represented in “Greatest Hits,” including songs like “Good Stuff,” “Sailing to San Juan,” and “Samba.”
“Tough Tofu” may be Deems’ all-time best hit. “It has received a ton of airplay, nationally, in Europe and the Far East,” he said.
Also on the CD is Deems’ quiet and reflective tune “Song for Jean,” written for his wife.
Deems’ versions of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “That’s the way of the world,” and the Beatles “Here, there, everywhere,” and Rogers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things,” show off his diverse musical pallet.
It’s on these classic soul, pop and orchestral songs that Deems shows off his ability to add his brand of soul to any tune.
“When I do other people’s material, I do it in my style, rather than clone the record,” said Deems.
This year has been a busy one for Deems with six concerts a week in night clubs around the Northwest. “I’ve carved my niche. People know my sound,” Deems said.
Deems’ schedule of shows this fall and winter include Grinder’s Restaurant in Shoreline, The Wellington Restaurant in Rainier Valley, Pacific Place in downtown Seattle for “Xmas Jazz,” among other places.
Deems can be heard at Alexandria’s on 2nd where his shows are looser. “We play some good funky smooth jazz, a throw down style, cutting the groove,” Deems said.
With a reputation as a jazz musician in the Asian American community going back to the mid-70s, Deems provides opportunities for Asian jazz musicians to show off their talent. His bands, however, are multi-cultural.
“Asian players find me. They show up at gigs, bring their ax and sit in,” said Deems.