Vol. 4

3rd Album Recording Live at JIROKICHI
Dedicate to Takehiro Honda

Attracted by Native Son, I started to play tenor saxophone when I was 16.
A year later I was very honored of joining a band named SCARECROW.
SCARECROW consisted of staff members of JIROKICHI, Native Son’s home ground live house.

The band practiced on Mondays when JIROKICHI is closed, then did live performances as an opening act of “Birthday Party” on the last Saturday of every month.

That “Birthday Party” was bacchanalianism in the name of a party to cerebrate staffs’ and musicians’ birthdays of each month.

Members of Native Son and other famous musicians got together at the party.
It was like a series of dream nights for me.

Then I was allowed to play at JIROKICHI as a proper musician. After that my main stage was shifted to the morning shows of Shinjuku Pit Inn, the Japanese Jazz Hall of Fame.

Around that time I became a university student.
I was with fear in my heart if I could continue to play as a professional.

So I placed a secret bet within myself.

“If I give up being professional, I need to set the time limit for starting job search.
It should be until the end of my sophomore year.
I should give up then if I am not called upon by Takehiro Honda’s band which I want to join the most in Japan.”

But the day of my destiny came rather soon when I was a freshman.

One day when I was playing at the morning show of Pit Inn, a staff called me for a phone call. It was from Honda.
He said thickly , “Jun, you play Jazz, right?” I answered, “I’m not sure but I…, he asked my schedule and told me, “Come and play in my quartet at the live house GH9!!” And he hanged up.

My mind became a complete blank.

I felt like “What should I do?” rather than “My dream came true!!!”.

On the day of the performance with Honda, I went to the live house early and was waiting for Honda, but he didn’t show up even when it was 10 minutes before the start.
Only 5 minutes before the start, when he appeared getting off the elevator.

There was no time for confirmation. I said to him in a hasty manner. “My repertory is very limited. Can I have scores?” Then he told me shortly just before going to the stage. “You decide what to play! Let’s go!!”

“Never get nervous!!” He gave me a thump on the back then sat down in front of the piano without saying anything.

After a short silence, he asked me.

“Jun, what do we play?”

I said, “On Green Dolphin Street”.

He said “Hah?” to me in an irritable and thick voice.

“Did I make a mistake on choosing what to play? No, it’s impossible, it’s his favorite.”

Believing so, I said again more loudly this time.


“OK”, he said.

With this number, the play of Honda and me started.

Today I can play music because he approved my play of this day.

After that, Honda gave me a lot of precious, irreplaceable heritage with countless wild episodes.

This time, I received an offer to play at JIROKICHI. It was just when I wanted to do recording an album, feeling something sure with my band, newly started this June, “JUN USUBA & YOUNG RABBITS”.

August 21st is Honda’s birthday.

I don’t think it’s just a coincidence.

“Jun, do what you want, with young ones at JIROKICHI!!”

I think this opportunity might be an encouragement from Honda.

Or it might be only my imagination, but I would like to express my honest feeling with my gratitude as much as I can.

Jun Usuba

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