steve at henry


One last gasp before I start posting about my trip back to the States. Toward the end of last semester, I went with Robert and Futoshi to see Steve Muller, a colleague at Handai, play at Bar Henry, a venerable jazz bar in Kobe. Kobe, of course, is known for its jazz bars and has a yearly jazz festival (Kobe Jazz Street) that encourages spending the entire weekend walking from bar to bar, listening to jazz, and drinking. Which sounds just splendid to me.

Steve is a stride player, and a damn good one at that. He plays standards, and he plays them well — with stride heart and a voice that’s perfect for the material without being overblown about things. Steve played with several musicians — who sat in and sat out as the tune demanded — including a bassist, an alto player, a drummer, and a violinist. In fact, unless my memory is completely failing me, Steve and the violin player played a duet of one of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, which is always a nice bit to throw into a primarily jazz set.

Henry may be a small bar, but the food is great, all the seats in the house are right at stageside, and the atmosphere is as warm as a living-room fire in New York winter.

One of the nicest surprises of the evening was when the owner, who had been working behind the bar all evening, came out to sing a few numbers at the end of Steve’s set. Her voice had a nice low blues growl to it and she just took the place over. I love it when a voice says “a million dark and smokey bars” (and not in imitation). Henry! Steve! Mama-san! Check it out.


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