I'm far too revved up to make obeissance to that ol' journalism formulae, the inverted triangle, and so here, in no particular order, are some random impressions of my current trip to Tokyo, Japan accompanying singer Jane Harvey (and husband Bill King) for her upcoming gig next Wednesday night at Tokyo TUC Jazz Club.
We arrived safe n' sound yesterday and are now settled in at our respective hotels. Last night, I received my copy of the new and revamped version (see below) of Jane's 1987 Stephen Sondheim tribute album. A standout is her added 2009 version of "Clowns." Absolutely in great voice, pitch perfect! Especially amazing inasmuch as she has been professionally hors de combat for more than a decade. I fearlessly predict that she will kill next Wednesday night in performance; and I mean KILL! Yesterday, a Japanese workman at the Kings' hotel, in broken English, congratulated Jane on the reissue of her Sondheim outing. NOW---I ask you---How hip is that?
I also was given copies of the three new SSJ label CDs that I worked on recently in one capacity or another: Jennie Smith Nightly Yours on the Steve Allen Show, Corky Shayne: In the Mood for a Song?; and Richie Kamuca / Buddy Tate Live at Donte's, but You Steve. . .Me Jane (as I prefer to call it) is, for my money, the crowning glory of the current crop of SSJ releases, which also includes pianist David Morgenroth's fine Alone with Duke (Ellington).
If one had a dollar for every car horn (and tire screeech) that one did NOT hear in Tokyo, but DID hear in N.Y. or L.A., said auditor would die (eventually) a happier, healthier and far wealthier person. It never dawns on the typical Japanese driver to use the car horn for anything other than the purpose for which it was originally devised: the alerting of potential danger. . .and NOT the venting of frustrations and/or anger. And the lack of tire squeals is probably attributable to, as Jane excitedly exlaimed last night, "Look! The drivers all stay in their lanes!" And, I might add, move mighty fast! A nation of veritable Sterling Mosses.
Jane, her husband, jazz crit Keizo Takada, Mssrs Sangu and Kobari (of SSJ) and I went out for sushi last night. Jane amazed, amused and surprised everyone by packing away at least twice as much of the stuff as anyone else.
I am staying at my ususal humble, but quite wonderful Tokyo abode, the Asia Kaikan hotel (8000 yen a night!). I went to visit some friends today at what is clearily the most opulent upscale hotel in Japan, The Ritz-Carlton, which begins on the 45th floor and, then, proceeds to ascend ever-heavenward into the ether. To give you an idea of exactly how upscale the R-C is. . . in their, umm, errr (for want of a better word) "coffee shoppe", a cuppa Joe costs sixteen samoleons, however---it should be added---mit refills. It dawns on me that you could put the entirety of Asia Kaikan into the nosebleed-inducing R-C lobby. . . and still have room left over. But ohmigawd. . .wotta view! If I ever stayed here. I'd probably never get to sleep, so transfixed would I be by the vast expanse of the night time Tokyo cityscape. Makes NY and L.A. look positively Palooka-ville by comparison.
I find that by employing a mixture of my rudimentary Japanese, English, body language, and foley artistry, I am now fairly able (in this, my sixth visit here) to get around in this wondrous (definitely) not-Kansas-anymore, space age locale, i.e. "Do you know where there is a payphone?" is affected by my saying "Denwa" (Nihongo for just plain "phone"), then miming the the action of dropping coins in a slot, accompanied by my FX of "KA-CHING"!
The Jane Sings Sondheim CD is in stores already and is flying off the shelves; and I mean FLYING!
Phone call from home yesterday: the cat is fine and the new smoke detectors have been installed.