A Dirty Old Guitarist’s Session

Jazz standards are not what I had in mind after the last week’s two sessions, but at least all the tunes that got called were tunes I actually knew, like Stella By Starlight, and There Will Never Be Another You, Black Orpheus, and All of Me (thanks Paul McCartney). Of course I forgot some of the changes, but not the melody. So I’ve gotta thank my former (tor)mentor  for beating the importance of the melody into my head. There were four other guitarists, three drummers, a vocalist, and one house-bassist holding it down. No pianos or horns, so  it felt like a jazz guitar class. Again, I was not the best or the worst there, but I was definitely the only one who played like me, and my GB-10 had the fattest, warmest tone.

In spite of my initial disappointment at playing old standards instead of The Chicken, it was a good night. The place was near Kinshicho station which is just over the border between Chiba and Tokyo, making it a bit closer to home. It was a bit hard to find in among the stacks of hostess clubs, and I rode the elevator up with an adorable little Philipino girl and her Dad who got off at one of those. My obligatory glass of red wine was very nice, and the walls were covered with 60s/70s memorabilia, so I could wander around gazing at pictures of old Japanese pop groups, movie posters and even household appliances while the other guys played, instead of just sitting at a table fidgeting or smoking. But of course it’s the customers that give a bar it’s character.

Sitting up in the front was the cutest Japanese jazz guitar girl I’ve ever seen. She could play, too. In the back, a trio of older jazzers. One of them (the best) gave me his card, and at the top above his name, it said, “A Dirty Old Guitarist.” I couldn’t stop laughing. He proudly told me that his card also got some laughs from Marlena Shaw when she was last in Japan. (Incidentally, Marlena Shaw is BIG in Japan, in jazz/funk/R&B circles.) I also had a long chat with a drummer about unemployment and rural depopulation, public health care, the downside of curing cancer, why Brazilian rosewood is banned as import to Japan, and of course the construction of cymbals.

I was seriously thinking of leaving early, but I stayed until the end. I’d probably go back, too. Even though I haven’t had any desire to play standards for almost a year now, once in a while I guess it’s nice to remind myself that I can actually play real jazz (e.g. improvise something coherent based on standard chord changes with liberal harmonic, rhythmic and articulative embellishment) after years of struggling with it, and then let it go. I’m sure I’ll come back to it seriously when I become a dirty old guitarist myself.  Right now, I want to make the most of my few remaining years as a sexy, sensitive, 30-something guitarist.




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