December 24, 2006
Friday afternoon it was over to Dover to visit the other side of the family -- my mother and sister. They had both visited me in Hiroshima four years ago, so not quite the long lost family reuinion feeling I'd had the day before. They'd both moved since I had last been home, so it was nice seeing where they live now.
In the evening we drove out through the fog to a restaurant called The Abbot's Fireside in the village of Elham for a Christmas meal-cum-family reunion with some aunts and uncles I hadn't seen for absolutely years. The building dates from the 16th century and is well looked after.
We had a wonderful three course meal together with planty of wine. I had mackerel terrine for a starter, sea bass with a coriander sauce and couscous for the main course and panna cotta with a mix berry sauce for dessert.
There was a lot of reminiscing and laughter over the meal and for me it was strange since a lot of the things we were talking about happened a long time ago, but I was somehow taken back and it felt like we were talking about recent events.
Flew wih Virgin Atlantic, and it was a smooth and comfortable flight, despite being sat in front of two guys who went on and on about their Japan (and other travel) experiences for practically the entire flight.
The fog was really thick at Heathrow -- real pea-souper stuff -- so thick in fact that we lost sight of the wing outside. We were informed by the pilot that we would be landing using the automatic landing system, which was a new experience, but it went very smoothly.
Was through baggage claim and immigration in no time, thought I had to remove my glasses at passport control, as I now look nothing like the picture in my passport!
Then it was through to the arrival hall where my father was waiting. After having been away for almost ten years, it was an odd feeling at first, because time had obviously passed, but at the same time it was like picking up again from last time. For me, it was difficult trying to choose what to say, as there is so much catching up to do that I didn't know where to start.
Had a coffee and a chat and then had a leisurely drive down to Folkestone.
December 19, 2006
Go ahead float - Dalindeo
Stuck - Peven Everett
Scoop out - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Ipa amarelo - quasimode
Step it up - The Bamboos featuring Alice Russell
Blow your horn - Quantic featuring Ohmega Watts
Scene-Cartain call - indigo jam unit
The siren's call - Jazzanova featuring Thief
Ai no tabi - Sleepwalker
The decor isn't the only thing that sets this shop apart, however. The Kamukura chain (apparently it started in Osaka) is known for its unique tasting noodles. The broth they come in is thinner and less oily than in more standard ramen shops, the pork is sliced thinner (which almost makes it melt in your mouth) and rather than bean sprouts, the broth is packed ith Chinese cabbage (hakusai). Delicious!
Sunday afternoon it was down to Yokohama -- or more specifically the redeveloped port area for the Afrontier club event at Motion Blue in the Akarenga Soko (Red Brick Warehouse).
December 18, 2006
December 15, 2006
Unbeknown to any of us the pile of coats toppled during the evening and the collar of my jacket came to rest on the top of a spotlight bulb that formed part of the uplighting system. When it was time for me to leave I noticed there was a huge scorch mark on the collar, a couple of inches in diameter. Sadly, it looks like it's 'sayonara' for the jacket, which is a pain as it's barely a year old.
On the bright side, I guess I had been persuaded to stay to have one more for the road, there could have been a fire.
December 14, 2006
Ipe amarelo - quasimode
It's simple - Visioneers
A taste of honey - Tubby Hayes Quartet
Sun walkers - Jneiro Janel
Frost and fire - Everything But The Girl
Stolen hours - Patricia Holloway
Would it be impossible - The Superimposers
Go ahead, float - Dalindeo
This is the lost generation - The Lost Generation
December 11, 2006
December 04, 2006
Didn't I - Darondo
Don't know about that - Dirty Diggers
Devil's pie - D'Angelo
Quiet fire - Roy Haynes
Snakehips - Soweto Kinch
First lady - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Bomb in a trumpet factory - Quantic
Surely shorty - Peven Everett
Time - Ju-Par Orchestra
Wonder if it worked ...
December 01, 2006
This was the last night of the Soil & "Pimp" Sessions autumn tour and the venue was packed to the rafters with an eager crowd. It was the fourth time I'd been to see them, but the first time in Tokyo.
Shortly after 8.00, the introductory theme came blasting over the speakers, and a couple of minutes later, Josei, Akita Goldman and Midorin (aka J.A.M.) made their way on stage to rapturous applause. The trio kicked off the set with a blistering cover of 'Quiet fire', which was to set the tone for the whole evening.
They were then joined by the rest of the band and things stepped up a gear as they launched into 'Suffocation' followed by 'Memai'. The band were equally as hyped up as the crowd, the atmosphere totally electric and you could tell that it was going to be a good night even at this early stage. Compared to the gigs I'd seen in Hiroshima (which were great), this was at another level altogether. Shacho was agitating to the max, encouraging the crowd during the riffs and solos and rousing us with his banter between songs.
They played a selection of favourites old and new, but as with any band that has built a good repertoire of tracks, you're always left wishing that one particular song had made its way on to the set list that night.
As is tradition, the set built to a climax with their thrash jazz anthem, with the crowd chanting "Soil!" at full voice.
The gig drew to a close and it was time to shuffle off home, adrenaline still pumping, really hot despite the cold air outside, ears ringing, but still wantig more.
Roll on February and the new EP and more concerts.
November 28, 2006
Fort Green Jazzmatazz - Brooklyn Soul Boys
The hop - Radio Citizen feat. Bajka
Sophisticated & coarse (Everyday thoughts) -Ty
Monterey Jack - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Above the clouds - Paul Weller
破片(Splinter) - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Beyond the border - Native
Solifer-lento - Dalindeo
All that matters - Gerald Levert [R.I.P.]
November 25, 2006
November 21, 2006
I was in the mood to go out and do something last Sunday, so depsite the cold miserable weather, I decided to visit Kawagoe again, to see what the place has to offer when it isn't packed with festival goers.
November 20, 2006
Stray away - The Rebirth
Circular motion - Nuspirit Helsinki
Do it - Alice Russell featuring Unforescene
Can't believe I loved her - Peven Everett
Mira pa ca - Chango
Sahara - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Birds - Radio Citizen
Slowly surely - Jill Scott
Dance (Flyin' home) - Shelley Nicole's BlaKbushe
November 14, 2006
Monday night saw me down in Shibuya to see a concert billed as a Jazz Funk Expo 2006, featuring The Boston Horns from, well, Boston, and The Baker Brothers from that funk stronghold otherwise known as Bournemouth.
November 13, 2006
November 11, 2006
Friday evening I met up with a couple of former students from Hiroshima for an "SCB Tokyo Branch Party" (which is meaningless to all but those in the know). I was surprised that Akiko was in Tokyo, since the last time we had spoken, she was preparing to move to Hawaii. I did, however, know that Atsuko was in Tokyo, but hadn't got round to meeting her since I moved here.
We met up at Shinjuku station and headed to a cosy little French restaurant that Atsuko had reserved, which was tucked away on a little backstreet. It's one of those places that you need to know about, as you're not going to stumble across it by accident.
We had an enjoyable evening catching up on news and savouring the delicious food. Definitely need to have another SCB party and also need to visit this restaurant again.
November 09, 2006
Questions - Jesse Sharpe Quintet
Too high - Yesterdays New Quintet
Lightworks - J Dilla
Livin' in a new world - The Roots
This is the lost generation - The Lost Generation
I don't need this trouble - Alice Russell (feat. Natural Self)
Bong fury - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Your love is mine - The New Mastersounds (feat. Corinne Bailey Rae)
Autumn song - Incognito
November 06, 2006
I wonder what they do the rest of the year.
November 05, 2006
October 30, 2006
How do you really feel (Cut Chemist Atkins Edit) - Breakestra
Mirror, mirror on the wolf (Tell the story right) - Alice Russell
Throwing shadows on the wall - Shawn Lee
The sweetest girl - Scritti Politti
Faith - Amp Fiddler
Coco-e - Joe Bataan
Stuck - Peven Everett
Ella Weez - Leroy Hutson
Spental - The Baker Brothers
October 27, 2006
October 24, 2006
October 23, 2006
Tante Nelly - Joe Haider Trio
Soul village - Walter Bishop Jr's 4th Cycle
Peculiar times - Shawn Lee
Runnin' - Visioneers
Scoop out - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Make a baby - Vikter Duplaix
A woman like me - Spanky Wilson & The Quantic Soul Orchestra
Soft soul - Afro Soul Review
Rizla - Glen Scott
I didn't have my camera with me yesterday, but I did manage to dig up the following link at YouTube, where you can see him in action:
October 19, 2006
October 17, 2006
I can now sort my posts into labels, so if you are mainly interested in reading about my travels, you can click on that label to get all the relevant posts, and if you are really fascinated by the songs I've been listening to (and I just know you are, .... hehehe) , you can chose that label.
If you have any suggestions to make viewing even easier, drop me a line.
Do me - Jean Knight
Listen love - United Future Organization
I'm the one to blame - John Holt
Winding dance - Marco Di Marco featuring Nathan Haines
Our lives are shaped by what we love - Odyssey
Stoned out of my mind - Maryann Farra and Satin Soul
The sidewinder - Lee Morgan
Words and poets - Mr Spock
I can't believe I loved her - Peven Everett
Vitamin C - Can
October 16, 2006
Occasionally I will post here some of the things that I spot.
Today's post ...
(in an occasional and irregular series dependent on me finding such stuff, remembering to take a snap and then being bothered to post it here)
October 15, 2006
As with any festival in Japan, the streets are lined with hundreds of stalls selling all kinds of food and drink. During the course of the day I had some takoyaki, raw Thai spring rolls, some yakitori and a bowl of noodles ... oh and a rather nice plastic cup of Australian Shiraz. For some reason there seemed to be an inordinate number of Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki stalls, despite being some way away from Hiroshima. Mind you, there were quite a few Thai noodle stalls and Turkish kebab stalls too, so maybe it wasn't so odd after all.
The main attractions of the festival are the lavishly decorated tall floats complete with a band of musicians playing taiko drums, wooden whistles and other tinny percussion (I'm sure these instruments have proper names ~ but I don't have a clue) and dancers dressed in various different masks representing people or animals such as foxes, boars and the like. The floats are pulled up and down the streets by rope in a kind of procession. I loved the masks, which are fairly amusing, though a couple are quite eerie too.
During the afternoon it's a fairly sedate affair, but once the sun sets the temperature heats up, and the festival enters its next phase. By now everyone's pretty sozzled (try going to a Japanese festival where this doesn't happen!), and the evening is the time for the floats to face off against each other. They rumble through the crowd and when they encounter another float they turn and face each other and then a kind if battle ensues, where the musicians try to outplay each other, the dancers outdo each other and the float supporters (carrying paper lanterns) out shout each other. The battle continues for some minutes and then the two floats go off in different directions in search of another face off, clattering through the streets at fairly high speeds given the mass of people.
The crowds surge in to watch the face offs and add to the cacophony and everything is done in very high spirits, though I was amazed that the crush didn't turn into a stampede and people weren't trampled under foot.
Feeling fairly hot despite the cool autumn evening, toes throbbing where they'd been trodden on, the sounds of the festival music going round in my head, and on a full stomach, I made my way back through the masses to the station.