Day 7 - Travel from Kansai to Tokyo, and McCoy Tyner+Joe Lovano concert at the Blue Note Tokyo
Today was a truly historic day in the tour, for myself and for everyone in the band. We travelled from the Kansai area to Tokyo in the early afternoon, which proved to be a very physically and mentally demanding task. The weather, and confusion with directions proved for a very taxing trip to Tokyo, but once we finally checked into our hotel, and set our luggage down, we prepared to witness music history at the Blue Note Tokyo.
We had caught wind that the legendary and monumentally influential pianist McCoy Tyner was performing at the Blue Note Tokyo the day that we arrived in Tokyo. McCoy of course has been at the forefront of jazz music since the early 60's playing with John Coltrane's legendary quartet, and has continued to make leaps and bounds in improvisation innovation ever since. His sidemen have gone on to be the most accomplished musicians in jazz over the last 40 years, and we were all ecstatic to catch a glimpse of the master while he is still with us on Planet Earth. Performing with McCoy Tyner was the most widely respected and sought after tenor saxophonist of his generation, the great Joe Lovano, who was an established legend in his own right. The rhythm section was nothing short of the finest musicians on the New York scene today, Francisco Mela on drums, and Gerald Cannon, both of which had garnered a reputation for being New York's all-stars of jazz.
I was very fortunate to have met and played with Joe Lovano numerous times at Berklee during the Berklee Global Jazz Institute forums, so when I reached out to him requesting a guest spot, he was prompt to respond, and got me and my bandmates in free of charge! It was an honor seeing Lovano perform with McCoy! We could tell that McCoy was tired from traveling, and at his age he was not as agile as he was in the 60's, but we were all deeply spiritually moved by his playing and by the band's reception of the master. Joe Lovano demonstrated why he is so revered and highly acclaimed, leading the band with clear direction, masterful use of space, and a deep lineage of jazz vocabulary. It was an honor to hear the rhythm section play with and without McCoy, keeping a steady swing throughout that was both accessible and challenging to the ear. True masters at work, all of them!
After the concert, we were able to go backstage and speak with Francisco Mela, Gerald Cannon, & Joe Lovano about the performance and about the musical quest in general. Joe Lovano gave Tomoki and Connor a saxophone clinic, taking out his tárogató, and explaining it's sound and mechanism to them. He also explained the autochrome, his one of a kind, duophonic double-reeded, double belled soprano with harmonic overtones. Francisco Mela spoke with Juan about how he felt with the performance, was completely honest about his feelings, which was great to hear as developing musicians. Gerald Cannon spoke with Will and I about his process studying the bass, and moving to New York to get his butt kicked before he was accepted as a musician and hired "on the spot". We briefly had the chance to meet McCoy, and I was given a very gentle handshake and "pleasure to meet you", which literally meant the world to me! Met the managers of the Blue Note, and hope to perform there with my band very soon!