Tuesday, June 12, 2007

From Tokyo to Osaka

My only Tokyo concert - with Taro Terahara (bansuri) and Takaaki "Maha-kun" Kuno (ghatam) @ Otoya-Kintoki, Tokyo

Calcutta Night Vol. 39 - Shen with Tadao Ishihama (sitar) @ Salon de Amanto, Umeda, Osaka

Tadao and his mother, about to tuck into some of Tadao's delicious Bengali khana - mushroom curry and parathas

Writing to you from Kyoto, old haunt and one of my favourite places in Japan...

I had my only Tokyo concert on Friday, with regular partner Taro Terahara (bansuri) and Takaaki "Maha-kun" Kuno (ghatam - South Indian clay pot) @ world music live house Otoya-Kintoki. Maha-kun has just arrived in Tokyo so Taro invited him to join this concert to introduce him to Tokyo audiences. Unfortunately only 9 people came... Maha-kun played great though; he has a great mood and lovely smile. He can get away with playing topless too! (apparently necessary for full resonance of the ghatam)

6 weeks in one of the largest cities in the world, and only 1 gig... From there to Osaka where I had 2 shows in 1 night and I'll have quite a few gigs in the Kansai area in the next month - the contrast is distinct. I found Tokyo quite cold as a performer this year, only warmed up by the personal warmth of my few good friends there, like Taro & Yuriko, Takasitar, Martine, fellow Benares tabla-wala Tomoki-kun... Thanks guys!

So! OSAKA! You'll often hear people talking about the contrast between Tokyo and Osaka and it particularly struck me this time that Osaka people are so much warmer, more colourful and more easy-going.

Tadao Ishihama plays sitar in the Maihar Gharana (Ravi Shankar) style, but with his own distinctive flavour. He has been playing sitar as long as I've been playing tabla (13 years now) , but he started learning when he was 15! I was really struck by his sound this time - a very beautiful and strong sound, and very exciting style. He has been organising Calcutta Night at
Salon de Amanto for a few years now and this was Volume 39. Part of this concert was recorded for an internet TV site - stay tuned for details... [Now uploaded - click here for more info.]

After Calcutta Night we went to play at the private party of a rich gentleman in an expensive Japanese restaurant. Our host was a very nice and quite cool gent, and provided loads of delicious food and drinks for all. When I commented on the deliciousness of the maguro (tuna) sashimi, a big plate of it came, which Tadao later told me would probably have cost about 50000 yen - that's about $A600. After dinner we played for about 15 minutes, and we not only received a decent payment but also a very fine 2 litre bottle of shochu (Japanese spirits, this one made from sweet potato). Kya bat hai!

Coming up this week: On the 16th I have a concert with Hiro Minamizawa, who I played with in Varanasi in the 2006 Ashu Babu Memorial Concert. We'll be playing in the North Kyoto countryside town of Ayabe.


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