December 31, 2007
December 24, 2007
December 23, 2007
December 22, 2007
Throughout the novel, there are continual references to the meaninglessness of modern times, and the notion that with increased prosperity has come a spiritual/intellectual emptiness. Such serious issues are dealt with in a humourous way, with chapter titles such as 'Bonfire of the Volvos', and a group of demonstrators at a cat show being likened to 'an advancing chorus of an agit-prop musical' chanting "Moggie, moggie, moggie! Out, out, out!"
A thoroughly entertaining novel and a very astute assessment of modern life. Recommended.
December 20, 2007
Beaten Metal - Antibalas
A.I.E. - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Wind - Sleep Walker feat. Yukimi Nagano
African Rumble - Timo Lassy
Dangerfield - Grimace Federation
100 Days, 100 Nights - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
The Man From Nagpur - quasimode
Irresistible - Sizzla
Seven Nation Army - The Dynamics
Atlantic - Thief
December 15, 2007
Then it was time for the main act, J.A.M., the piano trio from Soil & "Pimp" Sessions. I've seen them play for part of a Soil & "Pimp" gig, but this was the first time to see a full set from them. A few of the tracks were familiar, but there were quite a few new numbers too tonight. As ever, the trio played very tight together and were clearly having a great time up on stage. Josei led on piano, playing with superb dexterity and speed, shaking his head and getting totally lost in the sound, and whilst he doesn't say much on stage, he is most definitely a consumate performer. Akita Goldman strummed away on bass occasionally veering off into interesting solos, and Midorin was a powerhouse on drums. The whole crowd was dancing away throughout the gig as the band turned the heat up with a few funky numbers.
We were in for a real treat with the encore as the full Soil & "Pimp" Sessions band came out to play a blinding brand new track.
I think this perhaps ranks as gig of the year for me and I can't wait for the J.A.M. album to come out next March.
November 30, 2007
A Different View - LTC
Stars - Nostalgia 77 Octet
Fisherman - The Congos
Irresistible - Sizzla
My People - Angie Stone featuring James Ingram
Tropidelico - The Quantic Soul Orchestra
General Confessional - The Electric Prunes
We Want More - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Budos Rising - The Budos Band
November 26, 2007
November 18, 2007
Time Is Love - quasimode feat. Carmen Lundy
Voices Whisper - Marc de Clive-Lowe
Prayer - The Stance Brothers
Heal The Nation - Jacob Miller
90% Of Me Is You - The Dynamics
Surely - DJ Spinna
Turn It Up - Shuya Okino
Breathe - Pink Floyd
Harley Davidson - Brigitte Bardot
November 14, 2007
November 12, 2007
November 07, 2007
November 06, 2007
The bus pulled into Mashiko just after 9:30 and there was three hours to look around the festival stalls, which sounds like a long time, but in fact there were hundreds of stalls and plenty of interesting stuff to see.
A giant pottery tanuki (or raccoon dog), as seen outside many a Japanese eatery. There were hundreds of these on sale in all sizes.
A small pottery sofa at one of the smaller, trendier stalls.
Among the different souvenirs being sold to visitors was this pack of grasshoppers cooked in soy sauce (I think). As tempting as they looked, I decided to pass.
From there, the bus travelled for another hour before arriving in Utsunomiya where we had another three hours to enjoy gyouza (kind of pan-fried dumplings), which the city is fmaous for, and watch some live jazz. There were several areas around the city where gyouza stalls were set up, and after waiting in a long queue, you could get one portion (4 dumplings) for just 100 yen. Great stuff.
There were also four stage areas around the city where there were musicians playing jazz and soul music. The festival has been taking place for ovr 30 years and always features professional and amateut musicians from Tochigi prefecture. It was good fun, though with only three hours before the bus headed back to Tokyo, there wasn't really enough time to do it justice.
November 05, 2007
Life in the country - The Ebonys
1 2 3 4 - John Arnold featuring Paul Randolph
7 Nation Army - The Dynamics
Skunky Funky - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Garra - Marcos Valle
Sphinx - indigo jam unit
Take Inventory - The Isley Brothers
Pipe Bag - The Haggis Horns
Summer Rain - Natalie Gardiner
November 01, 2007
October 26, 2007
October 25, 2007
Last Sunday was spent window shopping in Shinjukju, and when it was time for a break, Mme Cirque in the basement of Mitsukoshi looked the perfect choice. The staff are all donned in Marcel Marceau style stripy T-shirts and there is a circus tent-like feel to the interior of the cafe. There is a variety of dishes on the menu, but in the middle of an autumn afternoon, the apple and cinnamon crepe seemed the only real choice worth making.
(Oh, and yes, that is a new hat.)
October 16, 2007
Soul Turnaround - Walter Bishop Jr
Thank You - Sleep Walker
Early Summer - Ryo Fukuda Trio
You've Come This Way Before - Nancy Priddy
(A Case Of) Too Much Love Making - Gloria Scott
Ring My Bell - Blood Sisters
Wall Street - Jackie Mittoo
The Witch - The Broken Keys
Take Me With You - Jumbonics
After that it was time for a late lunch, and I joined the queue (thankfully just a few minutes unlike the doughnut place) at the Vietnamese restaurant called Banh Xeo Saigon. Banh Xeo is a dish described on the menu as a Vietnamese-style okonomiyaki. In other words, it's a kind of thin crepe cooked with a topping (there are three choices on the menu), which you eat wrapped in a selection of leaf vegetables. I had the pork and shrimp version, which was great. It looked huge, but was remarkably light.
For this food alone, Yurakucho Itocia is worth visiting again.
October 15, 2007
Saturday evening saw me out in Nakano for some sushi and then a visit to the pub B-Spirits. After a drink or two there I decided to spend some time wandering through the maze of backstreets north of the station that is packed with restaurants and bars. I soon discovered that there were a few streets I'd never seen before, and on tiny alleyway I saw the above defaced Coca Cola sign and the patchwork door to a tiny establishment that looked as if it were derelict, but was, in fact open for business. I didn't, however, venture inside.
October 14, 2007
October 12, 2007
October 04, 2007
September 30, 2007
Nature - Zeep
Samba Para Dr. B - Les Gammas
Lighthouse - Five Corners Quintet
7th Feeling - indigo jam unit
Budos Rising - The Budos Band
Why Jupiter - The Broken Keys
Doot Dude - Nathan Haines feat Lyrik L
Irresistible - Sizzla
Recurring - Bonobo
September 25, 2007
Following the chat they showcased some new songs from the forthcoming album, which were really impressive, before a guest slot with duo Flexlife performing with the band. This slot was OK, and the vocalist was good, but somehow it was a pity to see indigo jam unit reduced to the role of backing band. Back to the band with some more familiar songs and then it was time for the support set. The lights went down on the stage and from the back of the auditorium there was a boom as percussionist Tsuji Kosuke kicked into action in his own inimitable style.
After Kosuke's set it was back to the main stage as indigo jam unit came back for their second set kicking off with more new tracks followed by a second guest vocal slot (one of the members of Hana Hana). Everyone was out of their seats for the last section featuring 'Ka I Ka', 'Alert' and then '2x2' with its duelling drummers forming the climax of the set. For the encore they played a storming version of the new song 'Sphinx' that brought the house down.
The new album is out at the end of the year and they are back at duo in January and I can't wait for either.
From the station it was roughly a 15 to 20 minute walk to reach the wooded area next to a river where you paid 200 yen to view the higanbana.
It was a warm but cloudy day and the view was pretty spectacular, though rather than strolling through the woods, it was more of a slow shuffle as you waited for the queue to advance.
Much like the hanami season in spring, there was an incredible array of photographic equipment on display as everyone tried to capture the defining shot.
Also, in a field adjacent to the forest, you could enjoy the view of cosmos, or for a small fee pick your own bunch to take home.
A nice relaxing day ahead of an evening of jazz.
September 20, 2007
Looking After Life On Mars - Isotope 217
Crunch - Chicago AfroBeat Project
Bring It Home - The Bamboos
Start To Move - Elizabath Shepherd Trio
Rigormortis - Lee Morgan
Ching Miau - Yusef Lateef
Dreaming Of One - Trina Broussard
Test - Little Dragon
The War Song - Jon Lucien
September 13, 2007
September 11, 2007
The Man From Nagpur - quasimode
Outra Vida - Les Gammas
Wonderful World - Grand Union
Forever - Little Dragon
Anaconda - John Arnold
Moonlight - The Politik feat. Blu
Lucky Day - Faith Evans
Tryin' Times - Montreal Black Community Youth Choir
The Smile - David Axelrod
September 08, 2007
September 07, 2007
The sites in Kamakura are fairly spread out, so I decided to rent a bike for a few hours, which was surprisingly expensive (though I was later to discover that many things were overpriced here). The bike also turned to have a small electric motor to assist on hills, so it was simple to cycle up and down the hills without breakig a sweat.
First stop was Hasedera, a temple with fairly large gardens, a cave and a nice view over the bay. They also had good mango lollies on sale to quench your thirst!
From there it was a short ride to one of Kamakura's most famous sights ~ the Daibutsu (Big Buddha). The temple it was orginally housed in was destroyed in a tsunami centuries ago, and since then he has been sitting serenely outside come rain or shine. It's a pretty impressive sight and for an extra 20 yen you can go inside the bronze statue, which in the summer is pretty much like paying to step into a kiln ~ and of course the interior view is nowhere near as impressive as the outside.
After the crowds at the Daibutsu, it was time for something quieter, which involved a ride back to the centre and out again up a long incline (luckily with the electric motor it was no problem) towards Kamakura Kita station. Nearby there is a small temple called Tokeji (so poorly signposted I almost cycled past), which is located in a lush green garden surrounded by forest. It was very peaceful (cicadas aside) and relaxing, and if the clock hadn't been ticking on the bike rental, I could have happily spent all afternoon sitting in the gardens.
Passing back through the centre there was enough time for a quick stop at Hachimangu, a huge shrine complex that dominates the centre of Kamakura. The main shrine is housed at the top of some steps, though there are several smaller shrines, impressive gardens and lily ponds to take in as well on your trip.
After returning the bikes, it was time for refreshments, though I found that a lot of places were quite over-priced, so not wanting to pay 800 yen for a coffee I plumped for Starbucks. In the one day, I think I only really scratched the surface of Kamakura, though at the same time there is a limit to how many temples you can take in at a time. Good fun all the same.