My next stop on the Japan tour was Saitama (just outside of Tokyo), taking the train from Okayama to meet percussionist and most gracious host Naoto Yamagishi in his countryside town of Hidaka. Naoto is a fixture in the improv/music scene in Tokyo and just returned from a tour in Europe (he lived in France for a few years and is well-connected there as well). He is part of some very intriguing projects, like this one, so I was eager to learn more about his collaborations, performances, and the experimental music scene in general. Being in the countryside, I also took the opportunity to do some field recordings, capturing the evening symphony of frogs in the rice fields, and waterfalls, streams, and birds during a trip to the mountains.
While we didn’t have a live performance scheduled, Naoto booked us a large space with a nice grand piano where we spent nearly 7 hours improvising together. Noato’s organic sound palette and perceptive playing were a great match for my gentle and deliberate approach at the piano. Later that evening we were joined by the brilliant shamisen player Maya Yamao and saxophonist Makoto Kawashima. Although I was beginning to tire by that point in the evening, I greatly enjoyed our session together. I look forward to future collaborations with Naoto and Maya (you're both coming to Canada, right?!). Thank-you for the wonderful memories, homemade onigiri, and sake!