“WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT...?”
Well, it’s 5 a.m. here in Tokyo. A few hours ago, I played a very nice gig at Alfie in Roppongi in Shingo Okudaira’s trio with Takashi Sugawa on bass. This was my first time playing with Takashi and he has a very good groove and was fun to play with. (I have already said nice things about Shingo in this blog, but it can always be repeated. He sounded great all night but played a particularly cool solo on Just in Time for those of you keeping track. Not that I usually judge drummers by their solos (I’m too self-centered for that) but...it was happening.) In general, it seems to be a trend that young jazz players are getting stronger and stronger worldwide. They come back after years in Berklee, get a few years of seasoning in New York City under their belts and return home to join the local jazz scene playing on a high level. Takashi’s dad was at the club tonight and (as I always do when I meet the parents of some promising young jazz player) I said: “Hey dad, your son sounds great! You should be proud!” Half the time the parents have a slightly confused look on their faces--equal parts pride and worry--or maybe they just don’t understand my lame Japanese. Then again, they may have spent the last couple of years trying to talk their son out of becoming a musician. It’s hard for some parents to understand their child’s decision to be a jazz player. But a musical life isn’t necessarily a difficult life. It’s a different sort of life, at least different from people who work in an office or something else more predictable. But my life has gone in a million directions that I never would have predicted all because I was following the music. And I feel that I’m lucky that the music keeps taking me to all these interesting places that never would have occurred to me. (And so here I am in a tiny wooden house in greater Shinjuku at 5:20 in the morning.) Anyway, it’s unlikely that any musician’s parents are reading this blog, but if you are, take heart. It’s not so bad--at least that’s been my experience. (I’m not gloating however. I don’t want to jinx myself here. After all, it kind of does hang by a thread...)
Alfie is a club that I’ve played on and off since the early 90’s and in keeping with the theme of my latest recording (Live at Smoke: see the liner notes) I’m usually offering my appreciation to all the jazz clubs around the world that give me (and others) a place to play, a place to stretch and grow as musicians. The mama-san of Alfie (wife of Japanese drummer great Motohiko Hino who passed away a few years ago) has been supporting players on the local jazz scene for many many years and it was a pleasure to play at her club again.
As for why I am up at 540 a.m., well that’s a little less pleasant. A cold that I got in Germany last week had me in bed during the day during that all important time zone adjustment period last week and I got turned around. So yesterday I slept from 7 am until 240 pm. And tonight I slept...well, not much, although I’m going to tough it out and not sleep during the day this time.This doesn’t happen to me too often. I usually stay up as hard as I can the first day in the new time zone and then crash close to my usual sleeping time and reset my inner clock. That works pretty well for me when I go to Europe or come to Japan from the US, but this time, going from Europe to Japan and arriving at 8 am with a cold, I couldn’t manage it and I reset myself wrong. So today I’ll deal with the consequences and stumble around in a fog. (Come to think of it, that’s not all that different from usual.)
Still feeling the glow of inspiration from Tom Harrell’s amazing writing and playing last week. There’s a purity there that is pretty uncommon. Anyway, I can’t think of a way to put it into words, but if I do, you’ll read about it here.