September 30, 2007


Twice - Little Dragon
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

indigo jam unit @ duo

Monday night was down to Shibuya to see indigo jam unit for the third time this year. After the opening DJ set, indigo jam unit came on for their first set. They opened with some familiar songs from the first two albums, and during 'Scene:Cartain Call', drummer Shimi managed let one drumstick slip from his hand in the middle of the frantic climax, but somehow managed to grab at it and continue without missing a single beat. Then after the first three songs there was the customary 'talk slot' from wisecracking bassist BJ, though I think he needs a couple more gags to slip into the patter before they come back next time.

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.

Higanbana viewing in Saitama

Late September in Japan sees the Autumnal Equinox holiday, and this time is also the best season to see higanbana, also known as red spider lilies or equinox lilies. I'm no expert on flowers and can't confess to having noticed this type before, but the posters on the Seibu trains convinced me to go out to Saitama to have a look. About an hour from Ikebukuro station you arrive at a small station called Koma, which was heaving with people. In front of the station there were plenty of food stalls set up selling the usual fare, yaki soba (stir fried noodles), onigiri (rice balls), yaki tori (grilled chicken), beer, tea and so on.

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

Bring It Home

Battle Of The Species - Antibalas
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

Barge at Ochanomizu

On the way to work this morning I saw this barge being towed by a tug up the canal near Ochanomizu Station ~ a real throwback to the past.

The plants are taking over ...

This bike has been parked amid the greenery outside this house for months, and doesn't seem to have moved. Given a bit more time, I'm sure the bushes and trees will swallow it.

September 11, 2007

Lucky Day

Sha-bazz - The Rhoda Scott Trio
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

Missed opportunity??

Thursday saw a huge typhoon hit the Kanto area and the rain came bucketing down from late afternoon onwards. On my way home, walking up the shoutengai near the station I was amused to find the little shop that sells nothing but umbrellas and plastic macs had a sign up saying 'Closed due to heavy rain'. Could have been a bumper day for business...

September 07, 2007

A trip to Kamakura

For the last weekend of my summer holidays I decided to go on a short trip. Saturday was Yokohama under grey skies, and in the Sunday morning sunshine it was juts a short train journey to Kamakura, the ancient capital, and nowadays famous for its temples and surfing.

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.