For New Years Eve I hopped across town to a handful of parties, and found myself at Galaxie for one- where my friend Harry organized some jazz and swing bands to play for a few hours. Even though I just planned to pop in for a cameo (if I can pretend I’m cool enough to call it a cameo), I really wanted to make it in time to see Yoko Noge‘s band play.
I’d been following Yoko Noge from afar for a little while- she’s a bit of a Chicago mini-legend for playing in the jazz and blues scene for so long. I was also hoping to finally meet her, since Harry knew her and could introduce us. Well I stepped in the door just as she finished belting out her last note. I didn’t even have my coat off when I heard over the microphone in the other room: “thank you, you’ve been great!” and then no more music.
I wandered through the rooms to get myself a drink and as I turned a corner I stopped short and so did Yoko- we nearly ran right into each other. I said “excuse me,” and she looked down at my feet and then back up at my torso, pointed, and said, “oh, wow! I love your dress! Sparkly!” Then walked off. Of course, Harry later introduced us formally, but I really like how that was my first in-person encounter with Ms. Yoko Noge herself.
Yesterday, Harry asked me and my roommate to come with him to Andy’s Jazz Club, where Yoko and her band play every Monday night. And to also bring my camera to snap a few shots he might be able to use for a new website if he gets around to building it for her. I was glad to do it, and so glad to hear the band. They played some amazing Chicago-style bluesy jazz… but also threw in some traditional Japanese instruments. Some of their songs would start out with the stiff plucking of a Shamisen, or the soft flute-like shakuhachi, then somehow melt into a jazz tune. Seriously, an amazing experience. If she were to pitch the idea to a record producer, they’d call her a nutjob… but when you’re there listening to it, it works amazingly well.