I’ve tried to compose some pop materials with singers in mind, but without lyrics. My goal is to write good melodies which can be used with different arrangements or use some interesting harmonic movement or both. I usually come up with old school melodic ideas nobody cares about these days. I post 3 examples I wrote fairly recently. 2 of them I tried on stage with Adrienne McCay (organ)and Phillipe Allaert (drums) at Farafina. Please bear in mind all recordings are done with an old Yamaha Motif with no live instruments. They are just sketches. I hope you like them.
The guitar is “T. And Joodee, JP200”, made by Shiro Tsuji in 1980’s. I bought this guitar when I was 23. Way back! I found this one at a music store in Kanda, Tokyo. It looked so good I had to buy it. The guitar was acoustic but came with a detachable DeArmond pickup. I brought this with me when I moved to New York in 1988.
I couldn’t play shit back then and I thought the reason I couldn’t play was because I didn’t have a decent instrument. Talk about ignorance! So I brought the guitar to Steve’s Studio in Colonia, NJ and asked Steve to do something. He installed the Hi-A pickup (Bartolini) attached to the neck, volume and tone controls on the pick guard, and the output jack at the end pin. He also replaced the nut and adjusted the neck and did some fret work. I traded the DeArmond pickup to reduce the repair cost (I still regret). The guitar didn’t improve my playing magically as I expected.
Then the guitar had stayed in its case for a long time.
Around 2012, when I was playing with Scott Fragala and Matt Skeaping, I got the guitar out and start playing again. The condition of the guitar was pretty bad and this time I brought the guitar to Tetsuya Nakamura to fix it. He re-fretted, changed the pick guard, changed the bridge and installed the controls on the body.
I played for a while and it went back to its case again.
Recently I found DR makes strings called Zebra which is a hybrid of bronze and steel strings. I tried them on this guitar and really fell in love with the guitar for the first time (I never liked the guitar except for the beautiful look). The blend of acoustic and electric sound it produces is just amazing. I hope it stays out side the case this time.
I’ve been playing at this cozy sushi restaurant called Yuzu for a while now. Yuzu is the place for me to have good sushi and “sake” in Harlem. I play there once a month, usually the last Saturday of the month, with another musician, either a bassist or a guitarist. This is the only gig I do under my name so I act like I want to act without restricting myself much. Next one is on November 19th with bassist Atsundo Aikawa. 7pm to 10pm.
350 Lenox Ave., New York, NY 10027
I played last night with bassist Bill Crow. Bill always amazes me. At the age of 88, he remembers everything he did, saw or heard and keeps the memory like a computer database. Whenever he hear something interesting or funny, he starts telling a story related to that topic. Last night he told me that Stan Getz grew up in the Bronx and was a bassoonist before picked up the saxophone. A walking Wikipedia, I like to call him. The picture is two books he published “From Birdland to Broadway” and “Jazz Anecdotes” translated by Haruki Murakami for Japanese readers. He autographed these books for me a little after we started playing together at Red Hat Bistro in Irvington about 7 years ago.
We are playing at Red Hat again with Hiroshi Yamazaki starting June 8th.
A new season of Sunday jazz program at Settepani is kicking off this Sunday, May 8th. Duke Jones is away for an out-of-town gig, so I called Alan Eicher on piano and Aaron James on bass. I’m looking forward to playing with these excellent musicians. Music from 7pm to 10pm. No cover. Please come through and support live music in Harlem.
I play with the band on Thursdays at Paris Blues. Other members are Sugar Bear (key), Chris Hemingway (alto sax), Pamela Cornelius (vocal) and John Cooksey (drums). When I first joined the band, the drummer was Greg Brown who invited me to play in 2014. Greg had a disagreement with Tyrone and left. I too have some disagreements but I stayed. I’ll write more about Greg later. Today we’ll celebrate Tyrone’s 60th birthday. Music from 9pm till 1am. No cover.
I’ve been rehearsing with Hiroshi Yamazaki, Frank Tate and Chuck Zeuren on Thursdays for the last couple of months. We have interesting mix of originals and some off the beaten path tunes. We have a gig coming up on April 10th at Chatterton Hill Church.3-5pm.
I went to The National Jazz Museum in Harlem at its new location on West 129th St. to attend “Desert Discs with Vijay Iyer” I met him when he and his family were at the restaurant I was working with Dezron Douglas. Here’s the list of music he chose for the event. The list may be incomplete because I had to leave for a gig before the event was over. Vijay was a DJ that night.
Andrew Hill “Smokestack”(1963)
Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsies “Machine Gun” from “Live at Fillmore East” (1970)
Michael Jackson “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” from “Off the Wall” (1979)
Prince “Tambourine” from “Around the World in a Day” (1985)
Possible 20 is the name of the bar used to be on West 52nd St. The place was the musician’s hang where they gather to wait for job calls at the bar. First I heard the story from Chuck Zeuren and later Duke Jones told me more about the place. Chuck saw Joe Farrell passed out at the bar. Duke saw people like Steve Jordan and Grady Tate used to hang out there waiting for the call from producers and promoters. The name “Possible 20” implies the 20% extra union scale pay. It’s an interesting piece of New York musician’s history. I’m thinking of writing a tune entitled “Possible 20”. Stay tuned.
Ed Bonoff is a jazz drummer who’s been around for a long time. Once in a while, he invites me to his session at his house in New Rochelle. We play some from his big collection of charts with 3 to 4 horn players and have some wine and chat. At first, I had hard time playing off charts but somehow I got used to it later on.
He called me this morning to invite me to the session tomorrow evening. I’m looking forward to playing with cats again.