Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
After several impressionistic guitar compositions mixed with Japanese traditional folk songs, including one where he sang in an Okinawan dialect, guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto apologized that his “accent” may be a little off and that he was not sure of the meaning of some of the words. Nevertheless, it was a treat for the audience assembled there on a recent Friday evening in Saratoga’s famed Caffe Lena.
Before the first set came to a close, Tsukamoto invited distinguished poet Timothy Mason up for an unaccompanied poetry reading or two. Mason launched into a refreshing poem about the wonders of chocolate syrup, and, really, how can you not love a guy who loves chocolate syrup enough to write a poem about it? That poem was a tasty morsel, to say the least.
What makes Mason such a refreshing poet is that in today’s climate of poetry slams, he does not whine or shout at you about being a minority or whatever the hell the politics of the day are. He distinguishes himself simply by telling stories about being human. He puts in a heavy dose of life’s imagery into his poems, whether they’re about chocolate syrup or his Utah birthplace. He’s the kind of guy who actually takes time to smell the roses, and then tells you what he thought about while he was doing it.
Refreshing poetry or verse, like I said.
The Japanese-born Tsukamoto – now a Boston resident courtesy of the Berklee School of Music – was a perfect accompanist for Mason’s potent words. Both had an intuitive feel for each other’s art form. This style of performance harks back to poet/writer Jack Kerouac with saxophonist Zoot Sims or more recently, with the late African-American writer/poet Amiria Baraka (Leroy Jones) collaborating with saxophonist Steve Brown.
Good stuff all around. The night was really summed up by the Caffe’s general manager Sarah Craig, who commented during the intermission, “This is one of the best concerts most everybody missed.”
That says it all…