Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jazz Bar Gugan, Kanda

I wasn't overjoyed about how I came to know Gugan - a colleague I was drinking with insisted that we had to hit another spot after I thought we were finished dinner and drinking, and his favorite was right around the corner. It's straightforward and a nice enough place (which I don't mean in a bad way).
You see places like this a lot - just a sign on the street saying 'jazz bar' - but if you're me you don't get up the courage to venture into their basements (or up their stairs) very often. What you find when you go into Gugan is a small, hard-lit bright place, not too smoky despite the master and other patrons puffing, with a bar, a few high tables, and music. With dark walls and lowish ceiling, I kept feeling like I was in a closet (but my current apartment has a pretty big closet, so maybe it's a compliment). Above the bar are various jazz-related nick-nacks, and I have to say that any place with a Jaco Pastorius action figure can't be all bad. There was also a Telecaster behind the bar that I hinted I wanted to play, but no dice.
The music tends towards 50's jazz, with stuff like Oscar Peterson or Milt Hampton coming on, and at one point we listened to that 'Julie Is Her Name' album by Julie London where Barney Kessel plays guitar. I think this is all very tasteful stuff.
There's a good selection of scotch, and that seems to be a bit what you're supposed to drink, but I mixed it up with some cocktails and found that the master shakes up a good sidecar. He's a funny guy; my colleague told me he used to be a salaryman but gave it up to open a bar; now he just makes some drinks, changes CDs (no requests as far as I can tell) and sits on a low stool behind the bar to smoke pensively.
While other customers were certainly talkative, my colleague was a bit embarassingly loud. This seems more like a place for serious jazz fans and drinkers, or the intersection thereof, to get together and forget the world upstairs.

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