Some years ago, I inveited a western visiter in Japan to a udon restaurant. He was not so impressed with udon. Same thing happened when soba, okonomiyaki, takoyaki,etc., he liked Japanese beef and sushi only. Maybe that’not strange for us because Japanese food looks too strange for foreigners, I think.
BUT, i read some news about Marukame Udon in Waikiki, Honolulu in Hawaii. There seems to be always a long line to eat Marukame udon. It's a big surprise for me. Why ...or when did they start to understand udon taste ?? I curiously checked YELP to know how they think about Marukame Udon in Hawaii. Again, too big surprise ! It's on the top of the restaurant list of MOST REVIEWD and HIGH REVIEWED. I doubted that many of the yelpers are Japanese or at least Asians. AGAIN ! I got surprised !!! Most of the yelpers on Marukame Udon are non- Asian people !!!!!!
What happend on Udon ? or What happened on Marukame udon ?
I continued to read some articles...again, it's really suprising to know Marukame Udon is really popular in Moscow, Russia.
I can eat Marukame Udon or any udon in Japan anytime I like. But just for my curiosity, I think I should try Marukame Udon in Waikiki next time I go to Hawaii.
But it's a little stupid idea for me to wait for a long time to eat Marukame Udon......
Helge Lien and Tord Gustavsen are my favorite piano players from Norway. Both are not so famous in Japan. Myfriends don't know them at all when I try to ask even to jazzy friends. Only one friend of mine know them.
I don't know how many CDs are sold in Japan when they release new CD. I believe it's very small amout. Jazz is not so popular in Japan, in addition, the jazz fans in Japan don't know them at all....then who would buy their CDs ?
I'm one of the minority who buy the CDs of these artists.
This year, Helge Lien came to Japan, but I missed it because around his concert dates, there are many famous jazz musicians concerts in Japan. I needed to choose one from many.
I will wait for his concerts in Japan again, but nobody knows when it will be next time.....actually it's more possible that he doesn't come to Japan again.
In Japan we used to have a popular jazz magazine called Swing Journal.
At the beginning of the jazz era, it was very great in telling the good jazz movement to Japanese fans. Naturally Swing Journal became the top quality magazine of jazz in Japan.
Swing Journal closed its history in 2010 with less readers and advertising clients. It means jazz lost power in Japan. At the same time, I want to complain of Swing Journal and Jazz music talents too.
Firstly, Swing Journal didin't write new artists at all even in the year 2000. They still kept writing about Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Evenas, Powell, Elington....all the familier names were always found in the pages of SwingJournal. How many times do I have to read same kind of articles ?? I often wondered in my mind, and at the end I stopped reading. The final reason for it was that I lost interests in reading same things again ana again. Editors of the magazine were apparently too old and they didn't match new generations.
Second, it's also true that no good musicians came up after modern jazz giants died. Fusion movement created new fans but as a jazz fan, certainly old musicians were much better than new musicians. Maybe old editors of Swing Journal had the same feeling with me then. So musicians also should be blamed.
In a word, Jazz lived good times when jazz giants were alive. So it means Jazz died together with the death of such giants.
Some days ago, I saw rock magazine called rockin on and some other rock magazines too at a book store. I saw the same phenomena as I experienced with Swing Journal. They, rock magazines, are still writing Beatles, Zeppelin, Cream, Yes, Stones, Jeff Beck.....with so big photos. Of course the articles are so similar to what we've read many many times about them. They will soon lose power like Swing Journal did.
I don't like to follow the ghosts of past times.
I used to live in Hawaii....only for a while, though.
It's a lovely place. I hope to visit next year again.
One thing I want to do in Hawaii is forming a Jazz band there. Hawaii's feeling doesn't match the jazzy flavour, but I want to play light jazz under the blue sky and beside the tropical ocean.
While I was in Hawaii, interestingly I don't listen to jazz or rock so mcuh...maybe not at all. It's because of Hawaii's nature around me. In that heavenly place, we don't have to express inner feeling or soul of human. We can just live by letting our body and spirit flow on the time.
Recently I want to play jazz in Hawaii....could be fun.
Recently all the media say that Russia is not cooperative ( in other word, Russia is bad ) in Japan, and maybe it's also the same in the USA.
In my opinion, Russia is not as bad as media say everyday. Also in my opinion, the USA is not as good as media say. USA is trying to expand globalism, and Russia is trying to keep national benefit ( not exactly nationalism). It's the matter of which side you like, Globalism or National Settelement. Agian, this is just my observation.
Japan ( Japanese media ) is writing from the side of the USA, so Russia is blamed in this situation. But when weJapanese think about ourselves, we are not globalism believers, maybe we are national tradition believers.
Then, why do Japanese media tell us Russia is wrong ? It's not hard to imagine the reason.
From different angle of view, any country become both friend and foe. It's decided by the times and power balance. We ordinary people don't like fighting or war. Peaceful life is the best. Invisible hands lead us to serious trouble, always by invisible magic hands.
Now I'm interested in Russia very much.
突っ走れ、若きOne OK Rock !
Tokyo really changed a lot in these 20 years or so. So many restaurants were born and many of them are really good. People know that paying money for good food is worth enough. Restaurants are always among hard competitions with others to survive the gourmet race.
My residential area is a little far from Tokyo. It makes me plan what to eat in my trip to Tokyo. But whenever I plan it, I notice too many good looking restaurants there.
Recently I try to find good places with jazz music. Not many, but there are interesting ones. Touring in Tokyo is really exciting if you are a foodie.
Movies was really entertaining with thrillings story.
Interestingly, when I came home, the clearest memory about the movie was music. I was unaware of jazz at the time. I had no information who played the trumpet.
Somedays later, I talked with my friends about the movie and I picked up the music in the conversation. One of my friends knew it was Miles Davis. Again, Miles Davis appeared in the conversation as usual.
I was a student and my best music was Rock music, Not jazz at all then. But Miles Davis often came into our world. That was an interesting time for all of us. Rock was still creative, while Jazz spreaded into fusion with such talents like Chick Corea, Paｔ Metheny, and many many more, and the legendary Jazz works were still powerful for young music fans. Miles Davis came into any types of topics at the time because he played variety of different style of music with progressive feeling.
Many of them passed away, or many grew old and lost the power to creat new things. It's now hard to experience the same shocking era of jazz as we came through the student age.
Elevator to the Gallows is still clear in my mind, but something like this would never happen again.
I'm not fan of Thelonius Monk, actually I should say it's impossible to stay away from him when we learn to play jazz piano. He was not such a technical player, but what he plays impresses us at the first one or two minutes. After that, technical matters are forgotten because techiniques can't explain how Monk's play is splendid.
Thelonius Monk is not so popular in Japan. Of course jazz fans know his name, but I hardly see Monk fan pianists. But they all know Monk's music, and they say it's special and not possible to play like him.
After all, any jazz pianist can't igonore Monk, and it means his influence still lives on.
If I pick up the solid character pianists, they would be Evans, Jarrett, Mehldaw, Corea and Monk. Many other players makes good, beautiful, jazzy feeling music by piano, but the characters of piano play of these genius are unbeatable.
Among them, Monk is the strongest in sound character, this is my opinion.
Hiromi Uehara is active in the world. For me, it's a kind of good joke that a Japanese player is playing with Anthony Jackson and Simon Phillips. Who imagined this ? In addittion, such a young and small girl with a pretty childish face is the person who is working with such great players of the world. Not only the trio band of hers, but she also plays with Chick Corea, Stanly Clark, Ahmad Jamal...and many more. She is certainly recognized as one of the great pianists of the world.
Hiromi is going to tour in Japan in 2014. That is a really amazing tour, which includes so many small cities that most of Jazz musicians can't choose because of less audience. Even POP bands can't tour around such cities. In Japan, not many people go to concerts recently.
But she goes around so many cities from big places to small places, and the tickes are sold well. She is absolutely the biggest and most popular jazz musician ever existed in Japan. Good musicians were many in Japan too, but they could not gather such largenumber of people to their concerts.
Her play is really fantastic, but maybe her speed of piano play will be slow down as her age goes up. It's also interesting expactation for me to see her in such an old age. I want to hear her soul of sound through her piano play then. Probabaly at the time of her old age, each note of her piano play will have deeper meaning for her too.
In Japan, there sill are unique Jazz coffee shops called Jazz Kissa, which are filled with 50s or 60s Jazz atmosphere. People there are often keeping silent to listen to jazz music from nice audio speakers. Actually back in 60s or 70s of Japan, this kind of Jazz Kissa was very popular amaong fans. College students often spent a few hours there with reading books and jazz music in background.
But this jazz kissa style is getting out of fashion in Japan. Many of good places closed and new trendy shops took place. I also enjoyed jazz kissa very very much when I was a studnet.
My residence was close to Shimokitazawa at my school days. After school, I went to a jazz kissa for conversation with friends and for reading books inside. The jazz kissa was called MASAKO. Masako was a owner's name who died long time ago. The jazz kissa, Masako, also closed by the new development of Shimokitazawa station area.
When I found that Masako was no longer in opperation, undiscribable saddness covered me standing at the place of Masako although nothing was there expecting new building to be appearing soon.
People sometimes feel the stream of the times by looking at something familier. I understand my passed time when I see the fence of my neighbours which used to be very tall and now it's under my shoulder.
I remembered myself with only 500 yen for a cup of coffee when I saw vacant place of previous Masako coffee shop. That's a beautiful memory. Masako was my beginning of jazz.
The first note of Miles Davis trumpet in Autumn Leaves in the record of SOMETHING ELSE by Cannonball Adderley. That was my first encounter with Miles Davis, and I will never forget the musisc's impact on me at 19 years old.
My jazz journey started from the jazz kissa, Masako. I think I could live a good time to appreciate jazz in Jaapn.
Recently I often go to Ikebukuro for Jazz band session.
Ikubukuro is now like a small Chinatown in Tokyo. There are Chinatowns in Yokohama or Kobe in Japan. But those chinatowns are long-hisotry places. They are like tourists destinations.
But Ikebukuro is not tour place but it's just a place of Chinese immigrants or temporary stay. So the color of Ikebukuro is totally different from Yokohama Chinatown. I don't know why Chinese gather in Ikebukuro, but when they started to come to Ikebukuro, this area was rather a dirty and grim place. Now Ikebukuro became a clean area but hearing Chinese language more than Japanese is really strange.
Ikebukuro has several good Jazz places like bars or restaurants. For Jazz fans like myself, this place is still interesting and nice to relax with coffee and jazz music.
For the first time traveler in Ikebukuro, it's a little hard to find such hidden places. But you can easily hear Chinese language in Ikebukuro.
I like playing Blue in Green with the piano.
This is Miles Davis composition, but Bill Evans plays very good at his album " Portrail in Jazz". This song is really irregular form. Chords are out of normal progression, and 10 bars make one song form, usually standard songs consist of 12 bars, though.
If we play it as band music, this song makes real Jazz feeling. That's very Miles Davis number.
Special technique is not important here in this song. But the feeling of Jazz can make this number great Jazz music. Miles Davis was always like that. He didn't play fast notes or many notes, but nobody could play like Miles Feeling.
When I hear Miles muisc at bars in Tokyo, it instantly brings me into the atmosphere of 60's modern jazz.
Just a quick article.
Why is Ebola hemorrhagic fever worried so much ?
I know its a really hard desease. But there is no patient in Japan. In such situation, any news tells a lot how dangerous it is.
A Japanese medicine company has a good medicine for it. The new should focus on the fact that there seems to be a solution for it. But its ignored. Also as the mediocine seems effective, it needs to be sent to Africa or to the patients waiting for new medicine. That could be sooner solution for this desease. Act right away !
Ebola, Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia Airline, Muslim coutry, Syria, Hong Kong....so many news come up everyday. But it's totally impossible to understand the news because they don't tell us the real things, real reasons, real situation, real results....nothing is real.
How can we understand what we are now ? It's only confusion if we get news from media. Only way we can understand this status is that news is made by media for making us confused. If we think like this, all the things add up.
Halloween time is looming.
Japan has nothing to do with Halloween. But again like Christmas, Japanese people started enjoying Halloween without knowing real meaning of it.
I know there are pros and cons about it, but if you are in Japan over that time, please go to Shibuya then. You will see a lot of crazy costume people walking in the streets of Shibuya, and it's such a fun to see them without paying charge.
On the streets, in the bars and izakaya, you will see many of Halloween party people. They look crazy, but they are standard people in Japan. They will be back in schools or in companies from tomorrow as if they did nothing at Halloween.
I also expect watching them.
When I try to relax, I often play For All We Know by Keith Jarrett.
This is a duo recording with late Charlie Hayden, and this is super relaxing recording with tender plays by both players. Keith Jarrett recovered from serious illness before this album, Jasmine. Maybe that's the reason why his play has more emotion than power.
Charlie Hayden passed away some months ago. I wonder how Keith Jarrett feels about his life. Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Paul Motian, Tony Williams, Jim Hall, and more players who lived in the same time with Keith Jarrett are no longer living in this world with him.
Keith Jarrett is extremely sensitive about emotion, art, feeling, and life. This is my observation,though. I'm sure that he thinks of his life to be wonderful with such nice music mates. Without them, Keith Jarrett music would have never been the same or in other words, I don't think Keith Jarrett could be such successful without them although this story is all the same for the other musicians around Keith Jarrett.
Thank you, Keith Jarrett, for this wonderful work. I can sleep well with this piano sound.
My top Jazz players are Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and Brad Mehldaw.
Today I write about B.Mehldaw.
He doesn't come to Japan for concerts recently, which is really unfortunate for me because I missed all his past concerts in Japan. Maybe next year !
When I first contacted his work was at Largo. That was a little out of Jazz work, but it was a real shocking encounter for me. His play reminded me a sense of progressive rock or the Beatles in the sense of anything-goes talent. After that, I tried to experience his works.
Art of trio series are now my real favorites. He can play any style, but when he plays less notes, each note of sound has profound meaning. Just one note is enough to impress me. Art of Trio works are really great. When I want to know " HOW TO PLAY GOOD MUSIC", I always come back here.
Keith Jarrett comes to Japan almost everyyear, but it was my first Kieth Jarrett concert to attend. In my mind, Keith Jarrett has been young and solid looking guy all the time. What I saw on stage then was an old gentleman playing the piano. His soulful and aggressive piano play was not on the stage, he looked like a weak old man. His music was certainly beautiful, but in his music, I felt more melancholy than powerful soul. But thinking of his age, it could be natural. He also had serious illness for some years before coming back on stage.
Among his recent works, I feel his message about the time of dying. I often can't liesten to Melody at night or Jasmine simply as his piano works. The works are above music, they are like his legacy to us.
Keith Jarrett doesn't play many notes now, which tells more about his life. His works tell all of his life for me. Now his life is getting to the goal. I often think like that through his recent works.
Today, my wife and I went to the place where the cat is "LIVING", and caught him.
Until we find someone who can take care of him, he would be one of our family member. I'm sorry for this cat being left in the wood, but I also thank him for contacting me after all. It's some kind of our fate to see each other and spend some time together.
Life is beautiful, life is precious, which is often heard among human. But any life is beautiful and precious. I'm very happy if I could save a life today.
Thank you, small cat, for coming to my home. Please enjoy your life here until you find better world.
Bill Evans died at late 40's of his age, and Chet Baker died in the middle of his 50's...John Coltrane is of course missed, John Lennon's case is crazy...many passed at their good time.
Not only musicians but many of wonderful novelists in Japan died young. Some of them suisided.
I'n not so young any more, so I recently seem to understand how they regarded their life at their last years. Living long is good, but just living long is not always good for somebody.
Many of people around me also grew old with me. My loving dogs are also old. Being old tells a lot, but they are not unhappy now. Dogs can't live long compared to human, but I think they are happy to live their life even if it's only 10 years or 15 years. I think it means we are all blessed with our own lives.
I want to thank all of them for showing me how we can live beautifully.
He is not yet so famous player, and the time he came was just on the day when a very big jazzevent, Tokyo Jazz, was held in Tokyo with many famous jazz musicians, that's why Yaron Herman's gig was really small size at a live music place in Tokyo.
But with that small size, I could see his play very well.
His play sometimes is out of jazz style, whcih may be the style of israel jazz. He also plays very unique adlib melody. I like European jazz very much, but his stayle is not the same as other European jazz pianists approach to jazz inprovisation.
Some days later, a pianist from Norway, Helge Lien also came to Tokyo. One day before Yaron Herman's gig, my favorite drum player, Jeff Ballard played at the same place with Yaron Herman. I wanted to see him with Brad Mehldaw although I missed his gig.
As above players, many musicians come to Japan to play. But only some of them can fill up the 2000 to 3000 capacity concert halls. Japan is not such a good place for European jazz players, but for me, it's a good place because I can enjoy them in front of myself.
I love Bill Evans together with Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldaw.
One thing I absolutely missed in my life is that I could not experience Bill Evans' live concert in my life. When I became a serious fan of Bill Evans, he had already passed away. However, if he was alive then, my dream would not have becoem trrue. What I love about Bill Evans is almost the workds of his reverside label time.
He actually came to Japan for concerts, and it is now avaliable by CD called LIVE IN TOKYO. It's a very fantastic record of his play. But, I still love his play at riverside time, to be honest.
Now I look back my jazz life. I could have never been a Jazz music fan without the encounter with Bill Evans works. Many jazz pianists and other intrumental players also stimulated my jazz sense after some years, but the impact I reveived from them were not bigger than Portrail in Jazz or Waltz for Debby.