After the last month of not having my own computer, my computer issues finally came to an end yesterday when the data recovery specialists failed and declared my hard drive unreadable. So, it's back to square one. I lost a handful of things I really needed including the manuscript of a book about what singers need to practice, a couple of big band charts and a Keith Jarrett transcription that I spent an awful lot of time on, but--c'est la vie. In case you haven't heard this one before--backing up stuff is really important. I definitely plan to get a lot more into the backing up thing when I get my Hard drive replaced and rejoin the computer owning populace. Which should be later today, if all goes well.
The last couple of days have been spent as a member of Shingo Okudaira's "Super Trio" at the iconic Tokyo Jazz club "Body and Soul" and at a cozy spot called "Sakuranbo" (Cherry). It's a lot of fun to be playing with Shingo again--he's a forceful swinging drummer with a big beat and a great sound, very easy to play with. Some of the material (and perhaps the band name) evokes McCoy--who lives a block away from Shingo in midtown Manhattan--and so this band seems to move a bit in that direction, but not more than feels natural. (McCoy is one of the easiest pianists to imitate badly, with his signature Left hand low 5ths, and 4th voicings, right hand pentatonics and tremolos. It's tempting but I am getting better at resisting the temptation.) The bassist Tomo is a fine player that I haven't worked with before.
It feels good to play in Tokyo. I've written before that this city has a large number of (at least part time) jazz clubs, with grand pianos (usually Yamahas) and drum sets, sound systems--the works. having played here on and off for the last 15 years and now more regularly over the last two or three, I finally feel that I have a place in the scene here--some people are getting to know me and jazz fans are energetic and interested. This is very difficult to develop in Tokyo, for me, as a frequent but intermittent guest. The jazz scene here has always been mysterious to me. For example, few musicians really hang out--partly because the clubs are so expensive and reluctantly (if at all) allow guest lists. On top of that, the subways stop running pretty early--around midnight for some lines--and taxis are expensive, so getting around if you don't have a car isn't easy. Because of all this, musicians tend to follow their own course, playing with the people they play with, but they don't really come out and support the clubs so much. I've played for the last 3 years with the New York Standards Quartet, appearing at Tokyo clubs: Body and Soul, Strings and Yokohama's Motion Blue, and I would have thought that at this point a lot of the jazz players might have come to hang, but that isn't really the case. I was talking to Tomo last night about this and I asked him if he has good friends that are bass players, people that he sees regularly playing, and the answer was, well, not so much. In my own case, over the last few years (not having spent THAT much time in NY clubs recently) I have heard good friends (Bruce Barth, George Colligan, Adam Kolker, Jimmy Greene, Joel Frahm, Joe Martin, Matt Wilson, Ted Poor, etc.) players who I know in passing and whose playing I really admire (Larry Goldings, Danilo Perez, Kevin Hays, Robert Glasper, etc.) as well as older mentors and jazz legends (Lee Konitz, Wayne Shorter, Paul Motian, Joe Lovano, etc.) So, the Tokyo jazz scene always seems a bit isolated to me--musicians aren't deriving so much support from other players--everyone seems more on his own. Of course, this is just my perspective and it may be that there is a lot more hanging going on than I know about. I am not the hanger I was when I was younger. Still, I really enjoyed the experience of young hungry musicians coming out to see what the fuss was about when I played in Seoul. As a more seasoned jazz scene with a longer tradition of good players here, Tokyo doesn't seem to offer this as much, and some of the enthusiasm and sense of a shared musical community is harder to find.
Of course, I might just be down because my hard drive died but I don't think so. Perhaps this more than anything else is what makes New York such a special place--the community of jazz musicians that draw ongoing inspiration and support from each other.