Jeremy Steig Monthly Blog 2014
I'm playing at BODY & SOUL in Tokyo with the MAYUKO KATAKURA TRIO on the 16th.
It's going to be a hot gig and I hope you can make it.
Photo from the gig (Click and scroll down to the bottom of the page)
Here are some new drawings.
We had a really nice trip to Nishi-Izu last month and made a new "Japan Jazz Travelogue" video.
This month, I uploaded some new drawings. Enjoy!
It's already September again. I'm going to be 72 and Coltrane would have
turned 88. Here is a video (Title: Birthday Drawing for our birthday, the 23rd.
The video has a high resolution so that the lines can be shown clearly. It may take time to download.
The photo below was taken on Aug. 6the at BODY & SOUL in Tokyo.
One thing about playing in Japan is that I go to my gig standing up on the train.
The good thing is that I never have to deal with jet lag.
People came from as far as Okinawa to the club, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.
It was a very nice experience.
Next month on August 6th (Hiroshima's a-bomb memorial day), I'll be playing at Body & Soul in Tokyo. It will be part of a week celebrating the club's 40th anniversary. It's easy to say "40 years", but it really is nice to be able to play at this favorite club of mine after seeing so many in New York going under. I'll be playing with Tsuyoshi Yamamoto on piano, Hiroshi Murakami on drums and Hiroshi Kagawa on bass. Looking forward to seeing you all! Photos from the gig. (Scroll down and click icons)
I've been all over Japan, but I was on tour, so I saw only night clubs and concert halls. Now that I live here I have time to see Japan for real. Every year we take a trip to experience the beauty of this country.
This year we went to Kyoto. We hit the most popular places first and were swallowed up in crowds of tourists. Then we found some quiet places that were overwhelming.
A few nights ago I was complaining about how soundtracks were ruining TV and the movies. When we tuned in to a movie called Drive (with Ryan Gosling) it had a good story, nice pace, good acting and good visuals. There wasn't much dialogue. It didn't need it. There was only one flaw. You guessed it--the soundtrack. This incredibly crappy soundtrack was running parallel to a pretty good movie. I had to strain to shut it out so I could enjoy the story.
Towards the end of the film the hero became very heroic. A loud song kicked in telling us he was a hero. Aside from the hero and his girl friend there were about five bad guys. Did they really have to reinforce the idea that "HE" was the hero with terrible, out-of-tune singing? This soundtrack had all the elements of today's puzzling soundtracks. Drum machines, bad singing, unoriginal melodies, monotonous harmonies and cheap effects. This is the norm for today's films.
I got to see one method of picking songs for movies when I met the Dreamworks people making "Shrek". They do something they call "needle drops", which is just what it sounds like. They drop the needle on a record and if the song strikes their fancy it's in the movie.
Rap is an easy device for movies because their words reinforces the idea of the movie, just like the hero line in Drive. There is no respect paid to how the viewer wants to feel. Music in the soundtracks used to inspire different emotions, but sound effects have taken over. If they want you to feel tense they do it with a sound effect like the noise of a jet plane. If a movie has a theme song that's it for the songs. You hardly hear two nice melodies in a movie nowadays. You'd have to go back to old Fred Astaire movies to get more than one tune.
I am studying Japanese and it's very tricky stuff. But one thing I can do is to use hashi (chopsticks). I watch everything that I can find in English on TV. I see a lot of scenes where Western actors are using chopsticks and almost everyone is faking it. When I was a kid actors had to sing, tap dance, ride horses, and fence. Now they can't even manipulate two wooden sticks!!
Many Americans in Japan are offended when Japanese people compliment them on their skill at using chopsticks. They think it really means, "You can't speak Japanese." The truth is that they're saying, "Wow! You are a rare American who knows how to use chopsticks correctly." Japanese people have a terrible time learning English (Read Backseat Driver), but Americans don't even want to attempt Japanese. I know because it took my wife three years to get me to begin.
If you want to hear me play live now's your chance. April 5th at Body and Soul in Tokyo. I'll be playing with Tsuyoshi Yamamoto's trio. Yamamoto and I first played together at Body and Soul in 1986. It was my first trip to Japan. I'm excited to play with him again. Photos from the gig (Scroll down and click on icons)
I have become a Pussy Riot fan. I recently saw a TV documentary about them and was inspired by their honesty. Their direct approach to the use of lyrics went far beyond famous American activists/singers. Unfortunately, these ladies are not musicians, but then again, most music today isn't performed by musicians.
For the past month, I've been watching winter sports competitions on TV, mostly ice-skating and ski jumps. There must have been at least of three hours of ski jumps every day. Now we are supposed to get excited about the winter Olympics in Russia, which will have all the same athletes.
Olympics ruin countries. People are evicted to make room for stadiums that are only good for two weeks. When they are over, all the prices that have been raised for the event stay high. You only have to look at what happened to Greece to see the folly in the Olympic "GAMES". Now Japan is making the same mistake. Let's hope there will be no earthquake when the stadiums are full.
Great news! Jazz school is no longer necessary. Just grab your ax and move to Colorado. You can learn the same way the old jazz masters did, and it's legal.
A happy new year, America! Here are some new drawings.
Sixteen years ago, while on tour in Japan, I found myself in a department store buying a pen. They had to send for an interpreter and that's how I met my wife, Asako. Asako approached English like a real jazz musician. She knew that school wasn't enough and figured things out for herself. Loving movies, she would stay for three showings and listened hard to the sound of English when she was in junior high. That's what you need to play jazz--Listen hard. It's all ear training.
The Japanese government is pushing English language learning because of the Olympics, which is seven years away. We read about it almost every day in The Japan Times.
But most of the time, only the points of view of the educators and experts are featured, so Asako decided to express her views about it. Starting this month, I'm adding Asako's blog, "BACKSEAT DRIVER" on English education in Japan.
I am now studying Japanese with her every morning, so we are all together on this. Many people who visit this website are Japanese. Japanese jazz fans will find her blog very interesting. Her English is many ways better than mine. She even corrects my spelling. Enjoy!