Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Day the Earth Stood Still for Thad and Mel (Part 2)

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.



I found my file for the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra's catastrophic first tour of Japan. There's three documents in it. First is a Local 802 American Federation of Musicians (New York) union contract, signed by Pepper Adams and dated 19 October 1967. The contract specifies an ambitious "series of concerts in Japan" to run from 3 December 1967 through 3 January 1968. The wage agreed upon is "$3,200 for entire engagement" and payment was to be made "at beginning and conclusion of engagement." The contract is co-signed by Keiko Okuya (the maiden name of Elvin Jones' future wife) who was representing Elvin Promotion Co. of 21-25 Hashiguchi-Machi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki, Japan.

Pepper's contract lists Pepper as the leader so this is likely a tour Keiko tried to organize as a way of getting him to Japan to perform with Elvin. It's moot because the tour never took place but here's a summary of Keiko's corresponding itinerary nonetheless:

Dec 1: Tokyo: 7:35 pm arrival at Haneda Airport.
Dec 2: Tokyo: 1pm hotel interview.
Dec 3: Tokyo: Concert.
Dec 4: Off day.
Dec 5: Nagoya: Concert.
Dec 6: Off day.
Dec 7: Kyoto: Concert.
Dec 8: Off day.
Dec 9: Osaka: Concert.
Dec 10: Kobe: Concert.
Dec 11: Off day.
Dec 12: Hiroshima: Concert.
Dec 13: Off day.
Dec 14: Fukuoka: Concert.
Dec 15: Fukuoka: Charity show.
Dec 16: Fukuoka: Charity show.
Dec 17: Nagasaki: Concert.
Dec 18: possibly Nagasaki: Charity Sign show.
Dec 19: Tokyo: Concert.
Dec 20: Off day.
Dec 21: Sendai: Concert.
Dec 22: Northeastern Provinces: Charity show.
Dec 23: Northeastern Provinces: Charity show.
Dec 24: Aomori: Concert.
Dec 25: Off day.
Dec 26: Sapporo: Concert.
Dec 27: Off day.
Dec 28: Obihiro: Concert.
Dec 29: Off day.
Dec 30: Muroran: Concert.
Dec 31: Off day.
Jan 1: Off day.
Jan 2: Tokyo: Concert.
Jan 3: Tokyo: Concert.
Jan 4: possibly Seattle: Return to the U.S.
Jan 5: New York: Homecoming.

Keiko's far less ambitious second itinerary in my file was organized for 1968. Here's a summary of that document:

July 5: Tokyo: Arrival at Haneda Airport.
July 6: Tokyo: 2pm interview at hotel.
July 7: Tokyo: Concert.
July 8: Nagoya: Concert.
July 9: Nagoya: Concert.
July 10: Kobe: Concert.
July 11: Fukuoka: Concert.
July 12: Off day.
July 13: Tokyo: Concert.
July 14: Sapporo: Concert.
July 15: Sendai: Concert.
July 16: Tokyo: Concert.
July 17: Off day.
July 18: Return to the U.S.

Keiko's second itinerary was likely a first draft of Thad-Mel's Japanese tour. Unfortunately, it doesn't list the band or leader names, nor contain lodging or gig information as Jerry Dodgion said was distributed in advance of the trip. Plus, the dates above (5-18 July) were ultimately changed to 11-22 July for the actual tour.

I called Dodgion back today for clarification about K. Abe's role. It seemed possible that Abe went back to Japan with the band. Dodgion told me that, although Abe visited New York occasionally, he resided at that time in Japan. The bank that Abe, Keiko, Thad and Mel visited (see earlier post) was in Tokyo, not New York. That's why all conversation was in Japanese and Keiko needed to translate for Thad and Mel.

few faxed copies of photographs taken by K. Abe were also in my file. Abe faxed them to me in 1990. One photo is of four-fifths of the Thad-Mel reed section (Adams, Daniels, Richardson, Dodgion), dated "July 21, '68, Tokyo."