Chicago Immigrant Stories III at Wilson Abbey

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Featured Artists: Mini-Interviews

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Geraldo De Oliveira

Q: What is your name? Where were you born? What instrument(s) do you play?

A: My name is Geraldo De Oliveira and I was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. I play percussion.

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Q: When and why did you decide to become a musician?

A: Since I’ve known myself, I’ve been connected to music. I had an uncle who was a popular band leader in my hometown, and he was having problems with his percussionist. My uncle had heard me play as a kid and when I was about 15-years-old, he asked if I wanted to play in his band, knowing he wouldn’t have problems with me being late since he was my ride to rehearsals. And that’s how I got started. He took me under his wing for a few months and I took off from there- that was all I needed to realize I could become a musician.

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Q: How did you, or your family, arrive in the Chicagoland area?

A: My brother was already living in the United States when he met a lawyer from Chicago. He mentioned to the lawyer that he had a musician brother in Brazil who’s interested in learning about jazz. The lawyer told him that I should come to Chicago, the jazz capital of the U.S., and said that I could stay with him until I got situated. I thought it was a great opportunity. So in 1975 I ended up in Chicago…I was not picking a place to be, the place picked me.

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Q: What’s your favorite place to visit in Chicago?

A: The Art Institute

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Q: What’s your favorite family/traditional recipe?

A: Around the holidays we always make a cod recipe popular in Brazil, Bacalhoada.

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Ivan Shmilo

Q: What is your name? Where were you born? What instrument(s) do you play?

A: My name is Ivan Shmilo, I was born in Ukraine in 1981 and I play the bandura.

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Q: When and why did you decide to become a musician?

A: I started playing bandura at the age of 9. I heard the sound on the radio and said, “I want to play that.” It was God’s will. I discovered I was talented and it’s what I like to do. No engineering or IT… only music.

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Q: How did you, or your family, arrive in the Chicagoland area?

A: Chicago has a very large Ukrainian community. I came here in 2016 to work for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church where I performed the duties of a choir director. I now teach many Ukrainian children how to play the bandura.

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Q: Where do you live in Chicagoland?

A: Palatine

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Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?

A: Quartino

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Q: What’s your. favorite place to visit in Chicago?

A: Lake Michigan!

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Q: What’s your favorite family/traditional recipe?

A: Ukrainian borscht dumplings

Recipe for borscht dumplings here!

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Tatsu Aoki

Q: What is your name? Where were you born? What instrument(s) do you play?

A: My name is Tatsu Aoki, I was born in Tokyo, Japan. I play a three-stringed lute called a shamisen, but the jazz community probably knows me best as a bass player. I also grew up playing the taiko drums.

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Q: When and why did you decide to become a musician?

A: I grew up in a traditional Japanese arts entertainment family, in America known as a Geisha family. So I was trained in traditional Japanese music. But as a teenager I wanted to try something new. I was involved in what was called “underground arts” in Tokyo, and I played a lot of experimental music.

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Q: How did you, or your family, arrive in the Chicagoland area?

A: I came to the United States back in the late 70’s. As a teenager in Tokyo doing underground music, we were influenced by a lot of American pop culture, including jazz music. I was learning about Art Ensemble of Chicago, AACM, and people like Fred Anderson. So I wanted to come over here and just see it for myself, initially. But then I ended up performing with all these people.

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Q: Where do you live in Chicagoland?

A: Oak Park

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Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?

A: Lately it’s been Ringo Japanese Kitchen, on Fullerton. But another one is Silver Seafood in Uptown. After rehearsals or jazz events, it was the place to be.

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Q: What’s your favorite place to visit in Chicago?

A: I am very much of a secret professional wrestling fan, so I love going to any big arena to watch wrestling.

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Q: What’s your favorite family/traditional recipe?

A: Something I grew up with – it’s an oyster hot pot. It was always part of the cuisine in my family’s Geisha house.

Recipe for oyster hot pot here!

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If you haven’t already, reserve your ticket to Chicago Immigrant Stories III on October 23!

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