Toxic’s Punk Jazz bass is back from the Guitar Lab and it buzzes out at the 12th fret on the G-string. Since I’m not a bass player, I had them put light gauge strings (.45-100, D’addario). A heavier set or flats might solve the problem, but with the debilitating humidity of coastal Japan I might have to set it up again myself. The intonation seems off already, too.

Playing it through the the old Ampeg or my new handmade headphone amp is the most fun I’ve had in weeks. I’ve always loved the sound of the bass, and actually traded in a beginner bass for my first electric guitar when I was 11 years old. Even after a 20-year lapse (hehe), I can get some good sounds out of it, and tips of my fingers have some painful blisters as a result.

After wearing out my index-finger on some Jaco/Jamerson/Jackson inspired grooves, I still wanted to play so I tried using just my middle-finger (like an upright) and thumb (like-Wes) . I even tried the James Jamerson “Hook,” but found it be too painful on the joint. Regardless of what finger I use, a strong arm movement is necessary for a nicely articulated strong attack.


I stopped at House of Blues to pick up my amp after. After I went in and got a drink at the bar, a young guy with shaggy long black hair and a thick black beard shot me a “look” from behind his thick black rimed glasses, and then punched one of his friend’s in the arm aggressively. I moved closer to the stage to hear the bass-less punk trio, leaving him behind me. Here is the conversation we had:
G: Hey
A: (…)
G Hey
A: ……
G: Hey
A: (…)
G: Hey
A: (…)
G: Yo, bruza.
A: (…)
G: Amigo
A: (…)
G: Amigo
A: (…)

Finally he taps me on the shoulder and asks…
G: Where are you from? Are you Jewish people?
A: (sigh) Well, my father is Jewish but I don’t practice that religion.
G: What’s your religion?
A: I was raised in a (Seventh Day) Christian church.

Pointing at his “Mighty Quinn Recordings” T-shirt I countered with…
A: What’s your religion? Are you Rastafarian?
G: No, man. I’m just a hippy!
A: Oh, ok. So your religion is getting high!?
G: Yeah, that’s right.
A: Yeah, that used to be my religion. Nowadays, I guess my religion is making money.
G: Oh, like Jewish people. That’s why I said you must be Jewish.
A: You can go anywhere in the world and find people making money. Japanese, British, Malays, Chinese, Saudis, Greeks, Rupert Murdoch — not just Jews. Anyway, my Dad is Jewish and he’s not rich. He’s got no business ambitions at all.

I walked away, finished my drink and said goodbye to the owner who told me I could leave my amp indefinitely. That’s the only reason I was glad the previous conversation didn’t escalate.

Detox can be expensive. I asked Toxic if he still had a bass that he wasn’t using. He confirmed by telling me a string was missing and the neck was warped. In exchange for letting me borrow it, I offered to fix it up and babysit it until he was ready to play again. Two nights later, he asked if I wanted his vintage Ampeg B-15N, too! He said no sound came out. I offered to sell it for junk on a net auction and give him the money. He said he didn’t need it, and at that very moment was selling his collection of rare-groove to Disk Union. Hearing that really broke my heart. It was like finally getting the call confirming someone ill or missing as dead.

Just before coming over to drop the stuff off, he offers me his Technics 1200 turntable for 15000 yen, but when he arrived he just GAVE it to me because it was old, dirty and had no needles. After thanking him, we took a ride to Shibuya to get paid for his stash by Disk Union. They were offering between 10 and 400 yen for just awesome stuff by Les McCann, Miles, Herbie Hancock, Grant Green. Most of it was probably reissues, but that music heard on vinyl is like nothing else (particularly when high and in the company of good friends in the summertime.) So I offered to buy it at what Disk Union was offering.

I treated him to Thai (food) to express my gratitude at his generoisty. When I asked him why he was getting rid of it, he said he needed more space in his apartment. That I could surely sympathise with, and ironically I have really volunteered to deal with his problem. The bass and amp stink like an apartment NEVER cleaned by it’s smoking bachelor occupant, and forced me to reorganize my front room to accomodate it. They won’t be here long. A coworker will be sub-letting the bass. The amp will be auctioned off as soon as the replacement tubes arrive, but not as junk. It works fine. Toxic just never noticed that the speaker wire was disconnected.

Bad boy been out three nights aw’ready dis week. Monday’s gig was followed by a “hanseikai” (relection party in Japanese) with Dreamin’ Yoko’s band the 000000’s. Yoko’s father runs a Chinese restaurant near Tokyo Dome, so we had the party there. Obviously he’s cool since he doesn’t seem to take issue with his son’s sexual preference, but just how cool I didn’t know until he introduced us to a nice bar with instruments layed out on the 2nd floor. We had an improptu session with him. So for the second night in a row I found myself playing Feel Like Making Love and One Note Samba.

The night after that I got treated to see Raphael Saddiq at the Blue Note. Seeing such a fantastic show following my mediocre show really put things into perspective. Near the end, I realized that there are three types of live music: 1. Lousy ones where I want to get up on stage because I know I can do better. 2. Great ones that make me want to go home to practice and compose. 3. Trancendant ones that I hope never end and take me to an elevated spiritual level.

As of yet, the third type only exists theoretically, but spiritual I know it must exist in a phyiscal phenomenon. Psychologically, I know that it is harder to find because of my musician’s urge to scrutiniuze, particpate, perform and create.