Murakami marks milestone with music

The Yomiuri Shimbun

From left to right: Sadao Watanabe, Junko Onishi, Haruki Murakami and Eiji Kitamura face the audience after the show.

By Shinya Machida / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterAcclaimed author Haruki Murakami hosted a live music performance in Tokyo on June 26 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his literary debut.

Titled “Murakami JAM,” the event revealed a hospitable side of the typically media-shy author’s character and put his love of music center stage. It was also the first public recording of his Tokyo FM show “Murakami RADIO.”

Before the performance, Murakami was checking the condition of the records he planned to play. The unfamiliar setting of a public performance appeared to have triggered a bout of stage fright in the 70-year-old author, but as he listened to a selection of his favorite tunes, the signs of nervousness disappeared.

The performance included a reading of “Tenjoura (Under the roof)” from his short-story collection “Yoru no Kumozaru” (Spider monkey of the night).

In a discussion with “running buddy” Shinya Yamanaka, director of Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, he shared some information about his novel “1Q84.” Confirming a rumor that a sequel may be in the works, Murakami said: “[After writing ‘Book Three’], I still had the stories for what occurs before and after [the novel]. I thought about writing them but it seemed like too much effort so I didn’t. It’s a long and complicated story. Writing sequels is laborious work.”

In another part of the show, he recalled a period when he had writer’s block around the time “Norwegian Wood” became a bestseller. “I actually really like writing,” he said.

He also discussed the influence of the time he spent managing a jazz cafe in his younger days. “Even now when I go to music clubs, out of habit I count the number of people. I imagine to myself if the cover charge is this much and with this many people how much would the performance fee be?” he said.

The event, which was more than three and a half hours long, culminated in a performance of the jazz standard “A Night in Tunisia.”

Veteran musician Eiji Kitamura delivered a delightful performance on clarinet, leaning slightly toward legendary saxophonist Sadao Watanabe and Junko Onishi, who was monumental on the piano.

Murakami once wrote an essay on music titled “Imi ga nakereba swing wa nai” (If there’s no meaning, there’ll be no swing).

The splendid session, which marked a milestone in the author’s life, definitely had a powerful, pulsating swing as the sounds from the performers collided with each other.

Observing the audience enjoying the music appeared to be an invigorating experience for Murakami.Speech

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