The end of November brings gray skies and chilly air to Tokyo — and rare performances by two famous New Yorkers.
The inimitable Vincent Gallo, best known for starring in and directing his films including “Buffalo66,” will perform with his band RRIICCEE at Blue Note, and ex-Television frontman Tom Verlaine plays with fellow guitar legend Jimmy Rip at Garden. Differences of temperament and artistic background prevail (Gallo tweets and represents himself, while not even Verlaine’s label is sure how to reach him; Gallo went from art debutante to actor, Verlaine, besides a youthful stint on the sax, is a guitarist nonpareil). However, both are acutely aware of the intersection of the cinematic and the musical. Gallo scores his own films; Verlaine composed new scores for short films of the 1920s with Rip. And each brings to Tokyo his own understanding of musical collaboration.
If at least part of Gallo’s website is factual (and not meant to be taken as a piece of “conceptual art” as is the page where he offers his “personal services” for $50,000), he has been playing music since childhood. His experimental band RRIICCEE rejects what he sees as the “painful” and stilted tradition of writing songs and playing them the same way ad nauseum. The group has performed sporadic tours with one-off lineups since 2007 (including an appearance at Fuji Rock the same year). Woody Jackson, a multi-instrumentalist and fellow gear-head, and Nico Turner of VOICEsVOICEs join Gallo at Blue Note.
Turner spends most of her time on drums and Jackson, guitar, while Gallo ambulates among guitar, bass and an array of electronics. The group does not record, though fans can anticipate revisions of the boy-in-love ditties from Gallo’s solo albums in between sparser instrumental numbers that beg a film in the foreground. Whatever the outcome, beautiful people mucking around on beautiful vintage gear are a given, and if the mood strikes him perhaps Gallo will deign to face the audience as he performs.
Jimmy Rip and Tom Verlaine’s collaboration is a different animal. The two guitarists have played together for nearly 20 years, since Verlaine’s post-Television solo project. In the late 1990s, a friend who curated a collection of silent films approached the duo about writing music to accompany some of them. The resulting seven songs, evocative and as varied in emotion as the films they were written for, are sure to be part of the evening. Guitarist Kazuhide Yamaji of ’90s alternative band dip joins Rip and Verlaine on the second night.
Vincent Gallo’s RRIICCEE will play twice a night at Blue Note Tokyo on Nov. 30-Dec. 2. Tickets cost ¥8,400. For more information, visit www.bluenote.co.jp/jp/artist/vincent-gallo. Tom Verlaine and Jimmy Rip will play at Shimokitazawa Garden in Tokyo on Nov. 29-30 and Muse in Osaka on Dec. 2. Rip will also play a solo acoustic blues show at Shinjuku Club Doctor in Tokyo on Dec. 4. For details, visit www2.odn.ne.jp/vinyl-japan/live-event.html.