Letter from the Road in Japan: Two
Layla--this is the kind of place that is a real icon of my road experience in Japan. I've been coming here since the early 90s. It's somewhat amazing to me, but I feel like we've all gotten older together and the people who come to this gig (at least the core 15 or so) are people that I have a shared history with. There's a loud, nutty over-the-top drummer (who drinks) and a cool somewhat inscrutable master (that's what you call the club owner here) and a cast of characters that include the bombshell, the girl next door (dressed in a santa suit last night) and an older brother bassist and ma and pa type couple who usually take the train from Kobe and get a hotel room nearby when we have a gig. It's a little like Gilligan's Island without the island. Anyway, the first set started slowly, with less of the regulars then usual and it started me thinking: what happens as these folks get older? Can the club keep going" Will this kind of touring be over at some point? I've done my share of nice gigs at festivals, but there's always been this kind of hard core travel (for me) in Europe and Japan, around the US at colleges, where you can only make the tour work by stringing together enough small gigs around the occasional better paying ones. I'm going out again in a few weeks around Germany doing the same thing, but it's been a long time since I did THAT. But Layla, we come here twice a year and see these folks that we've been seeing a long time. Anyway, by the end of the first set, it had filled up and felt like itself again. The second set was joyful and rocking.
I have a friend who says: this was our thing (by which he means, jazz players of my generation)--these clubs, this kind of road work and the next generation will have to find something else, or maybe they already have. But, I wonder whether my students will be doing this. Anyway, onward and upward. Today's gig is sponsored by the JR train company (which is like saying you have a gig sponsored by AMTRAK if AMTRAK were hundreds of times more socially relevant and effective.... maybe it's more like saying you have a gig sponsored by the subway, except that sounds like playing for tips on the platform. Hmmm, I guess there's not really a good way to correlate it because even though it's a huge company, the part that sponsoring it is very small.) Anyway, it's at a little newly opened station mall in Asagaya, which is an area in Tokyo known for it's tiny jazz clubs and bars (news to me, since I never played there before). This is a special event promotion coordinated with a giveaway of my solo CD so we get a little help here. (SELF PORTRAIT, available on Red Piano Records, soon to be available at the usual internet distribution sites.) These special events are always welcome and they help a lot and I've been lucky to get called for some over the years here. Anyway, if you're in the area come on by. 630 to 730!