Good live jazz last weekend at “Live the Palette,” the after-hours alter ego of Cafe La Palette in Hirai-cho, Tajimi.
Working for the first time as one group, the Satoko Nakagawa (alto sax) Quartet performed two sets, everyone playing within their ability to lend a relaxed, mellow sound to a quiet Saturday night beside the almost toylike trains trundling by on the Taita Line. Taking the train to Koizumi Station means you can drink worry-free.
Besides a variety of standards, the four did an original number called, I think, “Loop,” some moments of whose melody reminded me of a Coltrane piece, either Equinox or To/For Her Ladyship. When I tried to say as much to Ms. Nakagawa, she seemed at a loss for words, but she may have been thinking I was referring to playing style.
One great thing for me about Live the Palette: it’s non-smoking all the time! Who says jazz can’t live without smoke? Just for kicks, I
rationalized an inadvertent lens smudge finagled a crosstar effect, and did a minimal bit of post-processing to roll my own smoke into the scene below.
Another welcome feature: No amped-up blaring of instruments through a superfluous sound system. The only microphone was for between-song announcing titles and credits. It’s always like The Emperor’s New Clothes when you hear live (especially acoustic) music amplified in an intimate setting: Any normal person’s very first reaction to this aural assault is, “Why the heck is it so loud? It’s fine out of the horn as it is.” But thereafter everyone comes to accept the overkill as normal, as their hearing goes to pot. Be the little girl who doesn’t know any better than to speak the truth: If the hall is small, pull the plug!
I got to talk with the band members and managed to stump them with an obscure request, which I searched for on the net and played on my iPhone for them. They seemed intrigued, so it may be coming soon to a set near you. With slightly different personnel, the quartet will be appearing at La Palette a couple of times next month.
Bands of Brothers
Most of the members are Nagoya-based, playing the Nagoya scene at the usual places. Ryouta Asada was on top of his game on drums, though taking a solo only on the final song. The night’s hot bassist went by the last name of Kimata. Sorry to say, I can’t transliterate his first name. The pianist, Yuichi Hayashi, has released CDs with his trio Trispace, which includes bassist Morihiro Ohmura. Ohmura has played with the Sakake Brothers With The Acoustic Band (sic) (AKA SBAB), whose guitarist I often used to cross paths with in Chikusa. I’ve also helped a younger Sakake brother with lyrics for his own indie band. Small world. No, not those lyrics. For that unfortunately unforgettable unending gem, we are indebted to the Sherman Brothers, who also kept Mary Poppins musically afloat, among work on many other family classics. Older bro Robert B. Sherman passed away in March.
One thing I learned today: It’s a Small World was written in the wake of and as a reaction to the Cuban Missile Crisis, that nasty bit of history that nearly
ruined my first birthday ended the world, and that happened fifty years ago this October. Thank you, President Kennedy, for your gift of determined diplomacy in the face of imminent Armageddon.
The takeaway: Giving provocative superpower premiers a face-saving way out of sticky situations can prevent panic attacks and significantly reduce the risk of nuclear planetary annihilation. Use as directed. Side effects may include dizziness, prolonged or chronic ringing of cloying songs in the head, and inexplicable aversity to theme parks. Peace has a price, after all.
For the Dogs, Or Bone Appétit
Cafe La Palette is popular with dog owners as it caters to canine customers as well as their human hopalongs (Daytime only; Fido must find his own means of enjoying jazz after the sun goes down). The clip you’ll see on the floor by your table is for fastening leashes to. Just so there’s no mistaking, dogs are welcome, but it’s not a dog cafe. The food is only for people.
The nighttime “master” is an interesting man who speaks pretty good English, but not annoyingly so, as in, “Ahh, here comes another foreigner I can accost, show off my English to, and commiserate with.” The live dates are pretty numerous and varied, so you’re sure to find a day, time and artist to take advantage of this special live jazz venue right here in Tajimi. There are regular jam sessions as well. The cover charge varies. It was ¥1500 this night. Doors open at 7 pm for live gigs, with sets at 8 and 9.