That gig did not go as I had hoped, nor was the outcome unexpected. Eddie and I were both uncomfortable with the situation. The first thing played after setting up was some tune I didn’t know. Then he called a tune which I had learned specifically for this gig, only he called in a different key and didn’t give me a sheet like he promised. Despite this, we both admitted that the recordings of the gig sounded pretty good. Still, refused to play with me when the owner invited us back the following month.

After several candid emails were exchanged regarding the reasons behind his refusal, it looks like we won’t be playing with each other ever again. To be honest, don’t really care anymore. The jazz I hear is more than standard melodies straight from the page sans embellishment, and only comping 3rd and 7th on beats 2 and 4. That’s his style, and he can have it. The organ rooms of the old chittlin circuit is gone, and so a guitarist can’t pay his dues that way anymore. Even though organ jazz is experiencing a revival, the music has evolved past blues and standards.

I had always suspected that Eddie had a preferences for Japanese musicians but never understood why. Now that I can admit my true feelings about his music, I understand. Japanese have an cultural aversion to risk and change, which makes sense considering their history of natural and unnatural disasters. Also, in arts, business and government, it seems they have a preference for preserving and refining existing institutions, rather than actually innovating.

This is exactly what Eddie is doing with his music: preserving and refining the sound of 50s and 60s organ jazz. Japanese musicians who will collect and scrutinize all available media on an existing style, and then recreated with flawlessly are perfect for supporting him in this task. While I too invested money and time into learning that style, I could never compete with those Japanese kids. More importantly I have an aversion to emulation.

Still more important than that is I already have assembled a group of like-minded musicians who are enthusiastic about my more challenging ideas, AND love exploring old standards. This could be the beginning of a great summer!



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