Gifts from my aunt



My aunt sent a lot of baby goods all the way from Japan today. I am going to present them to not only Yuuichi but also Slava and Annas daughters, Nastya and Sasha, and my buddy Rohin who is going to have the first child in a couple of months.

Auntie, thank you very much for your love and continuous supports as always. I really appreciate that, and am seeking the way to repay your kindness.

Oh, by the way, I took the chocolate cookies you enclosed. Sorry Auntie, they looked so really good.....


Sarina Suno Quartet in Greenwich, CT


I came back to Greenwich, Connecticut today with Sarina & Hara's band, where I played the wedding gig a couple of weeks ago. Well, I have seen all kinds of mansions in Boston however this is exceptional. Maybe the mansions I had seen was the millionaire-class and the one I saw today was the billionaire-class. There are two buildings, the main house and the guest house, on the vast estate facing a beautiful lake. I parked my car by the guest house and took me more than three minutes to walk back to the main house. In between those houses, tons of luxury cars of the guests were parked. The cars were not just ordinary luxury cars; they were all flagship models like Mercedes S-class, BMW 7 series, etc. The indoor swimming pool was like a set of a Hollywood movie and there was an expensive-looking stone sculpture of deer.



What have I seen just now? It is just so different world and I cannot find anything to compare with. In Japan, there is a saying, The underdog howling from afar, meaning even if the losers say anything, it always sounds like just howling or yelping from afar. Well, I don't even know what to howl about. I can't express this extraordinariness of what I've seen. As different as chalk from cheese. no, more than that. In Japan, we say "as different as moon and turtle." It's more accurate in this case.

After I strayed in this different dimension, I went back to my rabbit-hutch apartment.

Sound checking

Having a rest between the sets.

Sarina Suno (Violin)
Hara Garacci (Guitar)
Marko Djordjevic (Drums)


Joe's Manu Katche Junior Kit


Many of the musicians in New York use public transportation, so we are in need of smaller and lighter equipments. I, too, am hunting for a light bass amp at the moment. Thanks to the advance of technology, more and more light but yet powerful amps are coming on the market. The drumsets, however, there is not much you can do to make them light or small except reducing the number of the drums on the set.


To make the drumset smaller, Joe whom I met today turned his drumset into a set of Russian Matryoshka dolls. This way he can stack up his drums one inside the other. Actually this kind of Matryoshka-type of portable drumsets exist, however, he must have had to saw his own beautiful drumset. I'm not saying like "he is sawing on a violin." He literally sawed off his drums in half!! Wow, he has a lot of balls to do this.

Can you see the hinge-like locks on the middle of the drums? The drums open up in there and he can put smaller drums in there.

Nori's drumset. It hasn't been converted. Maybe not just yet.....

Illustration: Smile Line

Session @ Joe's

Joe Hertenstein (Drums)

My buddy Lex the trumpeter gave me a buzz last night and asked if I could sit in for a session for today because his bass player wouldn't be able to make it. I said "yes of course." Session with good players is always like my field day. I went to the apartment of Joe the drummer whom I had never met. He actually lives five minutes from my place as the crow flies. Lex, Joe, Larry the guitarist whom I had never met either, and I played Kenny Wheeler's tune and some originals. It was only one-hour short session but was fun and challenging session, moreover, I made two new friends. Since we live so close, I'd love to do sessions again with them.
Lex Samu (Flugelhorn) &
Larry Corban (Guitar)


Sarina Suno Quartet @ Yum Yum Bangkok




I don't know why but I was so sleepy whole day long and could practice only a little. Oh well, I did not accomplished much on anything today but was resting very very well! I think I have to keep myself in control a bit more.


Anyway, after my unexpectedly long rest, I had a gig at Yum Yum Bangkok with Sarina & Hara's band for the second time. I could go to the gig either by car or by subway and I chose subway. Unlike other places in New York, I did not have to be worry about the parking with this venue, but I wanted to read a book for a couple of hours instead of driving. Thanks to the public transportation, I finished reading one Samurai book. Ha-ha.


I think the people at the restaurant like us and this gig is going to be a regular gig. Oh joy. The people in here are just awesome. They gave us not only dinner but so much desserts and juice and what not. I'm lucky and happy to play in such a nice place!

Sarina Suno QuartetSarina Suno (Violin)
Hara Garacci (Guitar)
Ippei Ichimaru (Bass)
Nick Falk (Drums)


Yuuichi on drumset


Yuuichi is playing drums on his daddy's lap. Grow up fast and let's have jam sessions together.


Yuuichi just had his 1st birthday recently, and I wrote on my blog that, by the old custom of where Tomoko is from, he had to walk with four pounds of rice in order to have lots of luck to get lots of food for entire of his life. There is actually another custom. We put number of random things on the floor and his occupation in the future will be whatever related to what he picks up from the floor first. Yuuichi picked up a pen. Hmm, maybe a writer or a journalist? I love comedy so it's cool if he becomes the scenario writer of SNL or something.


Sarina Suno Quartet in Washington Square Park


Busking in Washington Square. We had not come to the park for almost two months since June 2nd. It had been just too hot to play outside and also Sarina & Hara were extremely busy, hence the two months of absence. We had the perfect weather to play today; the sun was shining and it wasn't so hot.
There were substantially less people walking by in the park today, so we were worried a bit before we start. In the end, many people stopped walking right in front of us once we started playing and we had pretty good clouds all the time. The greatest advantage to do street performance is that there is alway somebody who listen to us whenever we feel like playing. Playing what you love the most whenever you like. I think this is the best mindset for musicians. That was a good performance.

Sarina & Hara brought "Melonpan" which, I think, is the second most popular sweet bakery product in Japan only next to "Anpan." I haven't had this for a long long time.

Hara Garacci (Guitar) &
Nick Falk (Drums)

Sarina Suno (Violin)


International String Trio @ Lyndhurst

Today's gig was a wedding gig in the town called Tarrytown by the Hudson River, 30 minutes north of Manhattan. The vast estate was called Lyndhurst and there was the Gothic building which looks like the castle in Europe in the Middle Ages. This castle was bought by a railway king in 19th century and now it is a museum/wedding venue. Oh boy, I have never thought I would see this kind of building in America. This is the castle of the bloke who piled up a fortune 120 years ago. Well, come to think that the castle used to be the status symbol of his wealth, this rather strange looking building makes a sense a bit to me.

The place was really close to the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River. The river looks calm and quiet now, but 120 years ago, the shipping trade was in the bloom of business so lots and lots of cargo ships and passenger boats must have been steaming away from New York to Erie canal. The shipping business on the Hudson River was declining as the train business was growing. I think the railway king was smiling in this castle when he was counting the number of ships on the Hudson river decleasing every year.

International String TrioSlava Tolstoy (Guitar)
Joe Kessler (Violin)
Ippei Ichimaru (Bass)


Takeshi's new car



While we were rehearsing, I was wondering what the bright light coming from the outside was, and found out it was Takeshi's shining brand new car. I don't know why but getting a new car is in fashion in this band at the moment. Kazuo just bought a new Toyota and then Takeshi leased a new car as well. His car was VW station wagon last time I saw him but now it is Audi. Wow, it is shining and looks so luxurious.

I have to think of getting a new car in a few years. My car is only four-year old but the mileage on my car is about 170K already. I think I should start saving for at least the down payment for my next one. Oh boy, I just paid it off 6 months ago.

WaFoo rehearsal

On the evening after the stormy day, I had a rehearsal with the Japanese band "WaFoo." It has been a while since we had our last rehearsal. I personally was psyched to get back on the band rehearsals because I think I got a lot better as a percussionist and knew that I was going to blow the band mates away with my new skills. Ha-ha.
I was going to kick everyone's butt and ready to bust out, however I was forgetting something very important. I am the lowest piece of the totem pole in this band and I have to play whatever they need me to play like percussion, cello, shamisen etc. I played the cello on more than half of the tunes today and couldn't really show off my brilliant percussion chops. Oh well, percussion is great but I have so much more I have to do. Oh I need love.... Or I need somebody whom I can kick butts...

We all went to a steak house after the gig.


Sarina Suno Quartet @ Thailand Cafe

Sarina Suno (Violin)

The usual gig with Sarina and Hara at the Thailand Cafe in the East Village. This venue is just perfect for musicians; the owners and the waitresses are nice, the place is always packed and the food is great! I love this place.
Hara Garacci (Guitar)

It was a fun gig as always except one problem we had. It was raining like cats and dogs. Unfortunately our gig can not be rained off. By the time we ended the night, there was almost nobody left at the venue. The real problem was when I stepped out from the restaurant to go home. It was still pouring but I could not use an umbrella with my big bass on my shoulder, so I and my poor bass were bloody drenched as a matter of seconds. I could use my bass as a canoe and go home.
Nick Falk (Drums)


Seafood curry




I made seafood curry today. The curry cost me about twice as much as the usual beef or chicken curry. Well, the taste is ...... not that great. I checked the recipe on the Net and I skipped one step on purpose because, the artist-type as I am, I did not want to do the same as ordinary people. Not that I was too lazy. I had to soak the seafood in white wine and get rid of the fishy smell but I skipped this process. Again, not that I was too lazy to go and buy a bottle of white wine for this.

Then as a result, ...... oh jeez, it smells so fishy. Curry has a lot of spices already and the smell and taste is really strong but the fishy smell pushes it away. What a self-assertive smell! And also, I shouldn't have skipped the crucial step! I shouldn't have been so lazy.

Well, I'm done with the seafood curry for a while. I'll just make normal regular curry from now on. What? Artist-type? What are you talking about?


Gibraltar low conga stand



Hello this is Ippei Ichimaru here. I'm the bassist who is only practicing on conga and cajon lately. A few years back, I bought three LP congas but two of them are still in the storage. (yeah, yeah, I'll take them out some day). I have been practicing just on one conga. FYI, the sound of conga gets much better if you float the conga from the ground a few inches, because the low tone comes out much more. To achieve this, the players tilts the conga with their knees or put the conga on their shoes, but it's tough to practice that way for a long time. So, I bought this Gibraltar low conga stand and it stays on the best position without doing anything. I was worried about its stability but it's totally fine. The only con I find is that, like all other basket-type conga stands, it does not get as compact as the cymbal-stand type and this stand is no easier to carry around than other bigger basket-types.

Well, overall, I'm quite happy with the stand.




This is my roommates' pet ferret, Robby. Lately he quite often becomes flat on the corridor. It has been very hot so I think the woods of the corridor feels cool for him. The area beneath the tank of toilet seems like the coolest area in the house and he has been sleeping in there in these days.


International String Trio in Greenwich, CT



Today's gig was the wedding at a mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, which is very rich residential area and the wealthiest town in Connecticut. The mansion we played at was also a huge and gorgeous place. The owner is an analyst who works on the Wall Street. He is not much older than me and living in 180 degrees opposite life from mine. He graduated from MIT and has walked on the path of the elites. On the other hand, I have always been dart poor but at the same time I have been putting my utmost effort to master the profound artistry of music and devoted myself to the cultivation of my art ever since my childhood. Oops, made a mistake. I have never neither put effort nor devoted on anything. I was reading comic books and playing the Nintendo. Oh well, I should have studied and done homeworks, but doesn't my life have a bit more freedom?

It's just like the howling of a defeated dog to say anything in front of this beautiful mansion. I just walked off dragging my tail between my legs.

International String TrioSlava

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