This November sees the Anti Social Jazz Club launch their inaugural temporary space dedicated to highlighting jazz and its connected genres in Liverpool, through an experimental event programme combining music, art and culture. Located in Buyers Club, Anti Social Jazz Club present KINKAJOU, a Japanese-influenced pop-up jazz café inspired by the country’s history of jazz cafés, kissatens and dance halls which date back to 1933 when Chigusa, the oldest jazz café in Japan, opened.
The Kinkajou Pop-Up Jazz Café will present a well-considered blend of live music and vinyl-only DJ sets by disc jockeys from Liverpool and the North of England across four days from 2nd to 5th November at the Hardman Street venue. The first of its kind, the temporary jazz space by Anti Social Jazz Club is a nod to the Liverpool jazz scene in the 1940s through to the 60s, which included the The Exchange Hotel, The Majorca Bar, The Jacaranda Coffee Bar, Mardi Gras Jazz Club, the Iron Door Club and The Cavern Club. The pop-up’s name is a hat tip to a former jazz club which, if research serves us rightly, was opened by Chesterfield-born painter and printmaker Robert Percival, who spent over 40 years in Liverpool having studied at the Liverpool School of Art for five years. After this, Robert spent a year in Paris for a scholarship in painting Académie de la Grande Chaumière from 1949 to 1950 and frequently visited the Parisian music and jazz clubs at the time – including the Existentialist Club of Jean-Paul Sartre – before opening The Kinkajou Club on Slater Street.
The opening night of the run features a TOKYO JAZZ JOINTS photography exhibition in collaboration with Weavers Door and Edwin. Founded in 2015 by Northern Irish photographer Philip Arneill and American writer and DJ James Catchpole, the Tokyo Jazz Joints photography project chronicles Japan’s hidden and rapidly disappearing world of jazz bars and ‘kissaten’ coffee shops. Arneill explains the ongoing Tokyo Jazz Joints photography project:
“Japanese jazz cafés and bars are often hidden, insular worlds where time ceases to exist, spaces removed from the speed and chaos of the modern urban landscape. Tokyo Jazz Joints is a visual chronicle of this world; an attempt to capture and preserve, if only from our perspective, the transient beauty of these spaces.”
The jazz café culture in Japan grew organically in the years after WWII, as venues where fans could gather and listen to the latest records from the United States and Europe. Imported records – let alone turntables and speakers – were a luxury few could afford in those days of recovery from the war. The act of going to a café and listening to a new release in a social setting became the norm for a generation of urban Japanese. At its height, areas like Shibuya and Shinjuku in central Tokyo had dozens of these cafés and bars scattered around the main station plazas.
Slowly, the cafés began to disappear as economic development continued and listening to music at home became the norm. Some establishments transformed into night-time only bars when it was no longer profitable to open for coffee-time. Fewer and fewer customers would spend leisurely afternoons immersed in jazz, books and coffee. As of 2015, there are approximately 130 jazz cafés and bars spread throughout the Tokyo Metropolitan area alone, a huge number compared to most cities, but down from the peak of more than 250 in the early 1970s.
“Year by year, the old jazz joints around town close their doors as the men and women who own them age, with their children moving on to other more ‘legitimate’ or lucrative occupations,” Arneill says, drawing from his extensive research into a world hidden in plain sight. “Tokyo Jazz Joints is our attempt to let you into this slowly vanishing part of Japanese culture. These are small, sometimes tiny, intimate locations where you can lose yourself in the world’s greatest music.”
Alongside the Tokyo Jazz Joints exhibition launch, visitors will be entertained by Barcelona-based jazz duo Fishprint, a new outfit from Nick Branton (who recently relocated to Barcelona from Liverpool), and Catalonian Pere Xirau. Fishprint’s harmonious blend of folk, noise and free jazz will be complimented by DJ sets by Black Lodge Brewery’s Paul Seiffert, Al English and Anti Social Jazz Club residents ASJC Lee, Tony Seasman and Tiz.
Friday 3rd November is a vinyl-only affair with jazz-inspired DJ sets by Keith Marley, Andy James and Danny Fitzgerald of Grooveyard, Dig Vinyl’s Carl Emery and Andy Smith, while Jacques Malchance of Upitup Records takes us into Saturday morning. The headline DJ set has been curated in honour of Ritchie Barton (see column opposite): Barton was one of the Cunard Yanks who sailed between Liverpool and New York on the Cunard ocean liners during the 1950s and 60s. Barton, now 85, fell in love with jazz music during his time at sea and fully immersed himself in the New York club scene, seeing the likes of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Count Basie and Nina Simone perform. Over his time spent in New York, Barton collected vinyl which returned with him to Liverpool. To relive the good old days in New York, the ASJC x Ritchie Barton DJ set will be presenting Barton’s vinyl collection (the majority of which remains unplayed), selected by Barton himself and spun by ASJC Lee for an evening of New York jazz vibes.
Saturday 4th November sees a selection of DJ sets in the Buyers Club bar, while upstairs is an evening dedicated to live music with exciting performances by Blind Monk Trio, who will be showcasing music from their forthcoming album, plus Harambe Maoni and the launch of the Anti Social Jazz Band, an experimental outfit with special guests lead by Liverpool-based musicians James Warren and Luke Bennett. DJ sets in the Buyers Club bar include Liam Flanders, Roger Williams and John Clement (Tuff Love Soul Club), Mick Jones (Madnice/No Fakin), James Zremba and Josh Aitman (Melodic Distraction) and Elliot Hutchinson (Dig Vinyl).
The final day of the Kinkajou Pop-Up Jazz Café takes visitors on a musical journey from jazz to world music and everything else in between, with DJ sets from Alfred Lion Appreciation Society, Melodic Distraction and Sisbis. They also bring Manchester-based jazz duo Skeltr (Sam Healey and Craig Hanson) and their high energy, electrifying jazz to Liverpool. Sunday ends with a takeover by Liverpool-based Wide Open, with DJ sets by Dr Harvey, Louis Gardiner and Josh Cherry Disco, plus a live performance from Ranga. Headed by Wide Open’s Ranga, it’s the evolution of his Ranga & Harambe project. The DJ and producer, who has produced remixes for Afriquoi, Nuybian Twist and Flamingods is the perfect fit to bring proceedings to a close at the Pop-Up Jazz Café.
Kinkajou Pop-Up Jazz Café takes place from 2nd to 5th November at Buyers Club
The founder of Anti Social Jazz Club, Lee Fleming, speaks with a personal hero and inspiration for a whole thread of the Kinkajou Pop-up Jazz Café series.
Every now and again you meet someone who fascinates you, a colourful character with so many stories to tell you’re scrambling for a pen and paper to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the details. This happened recently for me when I met born and bred Scouser RITCHIE BARTON, a former merchant seaman and jazz aficionado. Introduced by a mutual friend because we’re both ‘jazzers’, it didn’t take long for Ritchie and I to find common ground in the form of the New York jazz scene during the 1950s and 1960s. As a personal fan of Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck and Stan Getz to name only a few it was easy listening when Ritchie described his time as a Cunard Yank, sailing the Cunard ocean liners between 1952 and 1962.
Ritchie Barton by Hannah Cassidy
Ritchie, now 85, has never smoke or drank, meaning that when he and his fellow sailors docked into New York, Ritchie opted for the theatre, opera and live music over the bars and clubs of New York. As we sit at the Naked Lunch Café on Smithdown Road, Ritchie explains how most of the jazz he likes is from the late 1940s through the 1950s into the 1960s. Big bands are particular favourites of his and he names great soloists such as Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and Count Basie. For Ritchie, the key is keeping the melody, something which couldn’t be said for many of the other jazz men at the time.
Amazingly, the likes of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins didn’t interest Ritchie, though he saw some of them in New York – he much preferred the cool West Coast jazz by the likes of Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan and Shorty Rodgers. During his time at sea, which spanned over a decade, Ritchie was sailing in and out of New York each week between 1958 and 1962. When in the States, Ritchie visited iconic jazz venues including Birdland, The Blue Note, The Hickory House, Metronome, Basin Street and The Apollo.
At the same time, a nascent culture for jazz cafés sprang up in Liverpool as forerunners of the skiffle (and then beat) scene, of which The Kinkajou on Duke Street was just one. It is with this history in mind, and partly as a celebration of Ritchie Barton’s life and passion for jazz, that this series of pop-up events has been put together. And who knows, we may even inspire the next generation of jazz pioneers right here in Liverpool.
Friday 3rd November sees Ritchie Barton selecting some of his all-time jazz favourites to perform in a two hour ‘vinyl only’ DJ set, as part of the Kinkajou Pop-Up Jazz Café.