The sushi maker and the bass player

At Oga’s one of the sushi chefs is cutting cucumbers. Not chopping them into pickle-shaped rounds, but cutting them as you would peel an apple, slowing winding around and around creating a long, thin sheet of cucumber paper. The chef is perhaps 50 years old. How many cucumbers has he peeled this hour? How many in his lifetime? And yet he is serene, completely and skillfully engaged in his task. His concentration reminds me of – what?

Ah. The bass player. A very good “modern vintage” singer called Miss Tess played an event I attended in Rhode Island; her backing band was drums, guitar and upright bass. All the (few) jazz bass players I’ve seen have the same expression. The bass player looks neither at the instrument, nor the singer, nor the audience, but off into some space, focused on some thought or impulse in her own mind. What does she see? A harmonic structure? A beat? Sheet music?

A color?

Nothing?

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5 thoughts on “The sushi maker and the bass player

  1. Derek — Only on reassembler will you find a sushi chef being compared to an upright bass player — yet another reason why I love your blog. And I think that the comparison is an excellent one. Your description of Miss Tess’s bassist applies equally to one of my favorite bass players (and certainly my favorite stand-up bass player), Lloyd Brevett of the Skatalites.

    Interestingly, I haven’t noticed the same expression on the face of any electric bassist. Not sure why that is.

    As for sushi, do you recommend Oga’s? By far my favorite Sushi place in the area is Sato in Waltham (better IMO, and with much less acclaim, than Oishii), but I am always looking for alternatives.

  2. John Entwistle of The Who always looked like that, which was particularly amusing because of the carnage going on around him.

    Your post reminds me of watching Grandmaster Alexander Ivanov play chess. He rarely looks at the board, mostly at the ceiling, or even pacing around with eyes closed. I try to spend at least one or two minutes in my own games staring into space, away from the board, trying to visualize the position and calculate some moves. Occasionally I come up with an idea I wouldn’t have noticed normally. Not necessarily a *good* idea…

    -Matt

  3. “John Entwistle of The Who always looked like that, which was particularly amusing because of the carnage going on around him.” I wish I had written that sentence.

    Greg – YES. I haven’t been to Sato, Oishii or Nobu (so I ain’t all that educated) but Oga is very, very good. Something as simple as an avocado maki can be fantastic.

  4. I play bass ( in a blues band) AND I love sushi!

    When I “zone” while playing… its more like ” What freaking key is the guitar going to next?” Sorry nothing too profound from Blunderprone.

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