Blue Note address:
Facts about Tokyo suburb:
Hotel rates and services:
Distance of hotel from venue:
Tokyo commercial real estate prices per square-foot.
Venue size and dimensions:
Mixing consoles: Crest Mixer 64 channel, 8 stereo sends.
Green room – Maximum capacity is 30.
Professor Eduardo Calle
School of Entertainment and Design Technology
Music Business Department
BLUE NOTE JAZZ CLUB – TOKYO, JAPAN
Event: The Word of Mouth Revisited Tour
Artist: The Jaco Pastorious Word of Mouth Big
Band directed by Peter Graves.
Featured Soloists: Bassists: Victor Wooten, Gerald Veasley, Jimmy Haslip & Jeff Carswell. Saxophonist: Ed Calle.
Dates: March 21 – 28, 2004
Location: Blue Note Jazz Club - Tokyo, Japan
Hotel: Capitol Tokyo Hotel
The tour began for me with a performance in Orlando, Florida at the Winter Park Arts Festival on Saturday, March 20th. The festival featured headliners Joyce Cooling, Eric Marienthal and Ed Calle. The festival was sponsored by Orlando jazz radio station WLOQ. Approximately 1,500 to 2,500 people attended the concert. My band performed a 90-minute set, received a standing ovation and then performed an encore.
After the concert, I spent time meeting and greeting fans and signing autographs for all of the people who purchased merchandise. The concert was very successful on many levels. From a musical and entertainment perspective, the crowd’s reaction and product sales were a strong testament to the quality of the product.
After the show, I had the chance to speak to Carla Graham Ridge, the founder of the smooth jazz and educational website www.jazzinorlando.com. She asked about the chance to create some educational partnerships with her website and organization. I told Carla about our MDC program and setup an appointment to speak about a program when I return from Japan.
The production manager for the show was Grammy Award winning producer Sonny Maldenado. Sonny has produced recordings and shows for many jazz artists including Larry Carlton, Kirk Whalum and the Rippingtons. Sonny spoke to me about joining a group of artists including Bob James, Larry Carlton and Kirk Whalum in an educational symposium discussing studio production, touring and general music industry issues. Sonny is very familiar with the subject matter I teach at Miami-Dade and is most interested in having me discuss the music publishing and technology issues with the symposium participants.
After the show on Saturday night, I went to the hotel, had dinner with the band and went to bed around 11:00 PM. The wake-up call for the trip to the airport was 4:15 AM. Sunday was going to be a long day.
The trip to Tokyo began with a plane flight from Orlando International Airport to JFK airport in New York. After a two-hour layover, Jeff Carswell and I boarded the All Nippon Airways flight to Tokyo. The non-stop flight to Tokyo was over thirteen and one-half hours long. We left JFK at 11:00 AM on Sunday, March 21st. We arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport at 2:56 PM on Monday, March 22nd. The weather in Tokyo on Monday is cold and rainy.
After clearing immigration and customs, we met Gerald Veasley at the baggage claim section of the terminal. Once at the baggage claim area, the Blue Note staff picked us up and drove us to the hotel. The drive was well over an hour long. Tokyo is a very congested metropolis.
We arrived at the hotel at 5:36 PM and left for the show at 6:00 PM. Needless to say, we were jet-lagged and wishing for a couple of hours of rest. Unfortunately, that is not the way things work in the music business.
Once at the club, I prepared reeds and setup the tenor and soprano saxophones, flute and clarinet. The compositions and arrangements in the band’s book require I play all of those instruments during the show. As a reed player, my biggest issue is often making sure that all reeds and instruments are working in a new environment. Fortunately, Tokyo is a reed-friendly environment for those of us from Miami because both cities have high humidity.
The band performs two sets commencing at 7:00 PM and 9:30 PM nightly. On Monday evening, both shows were sold out and the band played to cheering crowds. The band received standing ovations and was asked to play encores after both shows. This trend continued during our entire stay. The encores are great but they add to the performance times and made all sets eighty minutes long. For the brass players, performing two difficult eighty-minute sets makes for a long and exhausting night.
Today’s Japanese jazz fans are very energetic and show their appreciation without reservation. The Japanese audience’s show of appreciation is much more noticeable now than it was when I first came here in the early 1980’s. During our stay, the fans really enjoyed our performances and let us now it after every solo, selection and set. It is my observation that the Japanese jazz aficionado is a most appreciative and educated jazz audience.
From a music business perspective, maybe the most amazing part about the evening was that both shows were sold out on a Monday evening. The entrance fee or cover charge is eight thousand Yen or the equivalent of eighty U.S. dollars per person. The cover charge does not include food or drinks. The current exchange rate is 101 Yen to one U.S. dollar. In comparison, the exchange rate was 267 Yen to one U.S. dollar on my first visit to Japan in the early eighties. Needless to say, the American tourist’s buying power is greatly reduced when the dollar is weak against the host currency.
The Blue Note jazz club in Tokyo’s maximum capacity is 350 patrons. The average drink price ranges between $3 to $5 for non-alcoholic beverages and $7 to $20 for alcoholic beverages. The club requires a two-drink minimum. On evenings when the club is sold out, the cover charge alone generates $26,250 per set or $52,500 nightly. When one estimates the profits from food, drinks and merchandising, it seems that when the club is able to contract and promote artists who draw a large fan base, the Blue Note can generate a profit.
The costs incurred by the club are also very large. The band consists of seventeen musicians, a road manager and sound-person/arranger. The average price of each musician’s airfare ranged from $900 and $1300. Every musician was also afforded a single room at the plush Capitol Tokyu Hotel in the Akasaka section of Tokyo. The band also received a 3-course meal every night after the first set. The meals, service and wine were excellent. The band was treated in a first-rate manner.
Tokyo’s real estate prices are among the highest in the world. Most of the goods, food, drinks and entertainment featured at the club is imported. All of the technology used, the overall facility and general presentation are first class. The staff is professional and efficient. All of these factors suggest high operating costs.
The club is very spacious and is one of the best sounding venues in which I have ever performed. Technically, the club is large with a very high ceiling and is very well suited for amplified music. The sound engineers use four microphones placed from left to right in front of the band and close to the ceiling in order to pick up the overall room sound. These microphones signals trigger a Yamaha S-760 sampling reverb unit. The reverb unit is programmed to simulate the acoustic room sound of most of the world’s great concert halls. During our stay, the reverb unit was programmed to simulate the acoustics of the Manheim Symphony Hall in Germany. The reverb time used during our stay was set at 2.6 seconds. This reverb length created a warm and pleasant acoustic space for our large band in the club.
The reverb signal is mixed with the band’s direct sound in order to create a more pleasant and full sound for the listener. The band’s direct sound is captured by using direct boxes for synthesizers and amplifiers and close-placement microphone techniques on the acoustic instruments performing on stage. The overall mix heard by the audience is a warm, powerful sound that enhances the performance greatly. The combination of the band’s acoustic sound and sound reinforcement with computer technology seems to be a great solution for rooms that are not necessarily built in an acoustically perfect manner. I look forward to employing this technique in future performances of the North Campus Commercial Music Ensemble.
Microphones: EV RE20, SM 58, Audio Technica, Senheisser 421.
Monitors: Clair Brothers
Backline gear: Drums