The Count Basie Orchestra

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The Count Basie Orchestra played to 1800 people at the Bunkyo Civic Hall last night. It was a fantastic show. The band was so "on" that it was like listening to a recording. They've been playing together a long time and they seemed to have fun doing it: lots of banter between the drummer and bassist; smiles from the brass players; general goofiness between songs.

I wonder what it's like to be a musician in front of a Japanese audience.

The Japanese audience (in the entire audience, we spotted 6 foreigners including us) applauded enthusiastically at all the right places, but nobody shouted, whooped or whistled. I tapped my toes until I was almost dancing in my seat, but the woman to my right was in better control of herself. She tapped a tiny bit, once or twice.

Most astonishing was the rhythmic clapping. In the US, when the band gets the audience clapping in time with the music, it breaks down after a dozen bars or so as people get tired or start missing the beat. Here, it lasted through the entire song. Even after everyone applauded the soloist, they returned to clapping a 2-4 beat.

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