Kobe Jazz Review: Basin Street

The owner of Basin Street, Mr. Tachihiko Kawasaki, once said during a concert that he didn’t really like the song after which he named his bar. “It’s too downbeat,” he said. “I wanted to name the bar after ‘Satin Doll,’ but there’s already a Satin Doll in Kobe.” He may be dissatisfied with the name, but he’s very satisfied with his job. He gets to own the bar, play guitar and drums, and hang out with jazz musicians all the time. If this is what a mid-life crisis gets you, sign me up.

Basin Street was founded just over two years ago, when Kawasaki quit his job in sales and decided to make a jazz bar where quality was job one. I’ve asked other patrons why they come to Basin Street, and the answer is always the same. “Basin Street’s musicians are just better,” said one young woman. “No matter when I come, even if I don’t know any of the performers, I know I’ll have a good time.” Quite honestly, I agree. Kawasaki recruits some of the best musicians around to fill his schedule, like the 84 year-old pianist who lived in New York, the twenty-something NYU grad with two albums under her belt, or the star of Bossa Nova night, who both sings in Portuguese and plays guitar. It’s a showcase of talent, and it’s inspiring. As one version of the song says, “Basin Street is the street / Where the proud and elite folks meet.”

That inspiration comes at a cost, though. The normal music charge for a night at Basin Street is 1500 yen, plus mandatory 300 yen bar nut fee.

The bar is small, with room for maybe 10 patrons at the counter and 16 at tables around the room. It’s a cozy, familiar kind of place, but it’s anything from quiet. At Basin Street, the focus is on the music. The bar is well-stocked with whiskies and other alcohols, but is limited to your standard Japanese bar repertoire – no martinis, but lots of simple drinks. The food menu, as far as I know, consists of one curry that claims to be organic. There are also bar nuts.

Music: 5/5

Drinks: 4/5

Price: $$$ (3000 – 5000 yen per person, cover and 2 drinks.)

Staff: The one bartender speaks some English, and the owner is conversational.

Basin Street’s February Schedule (Japanese)

Basin Street Map (3F)

For a guided visit, please consult the Kobe Jazz Group Calendar.

Travis Love is the Hyogo Times Food / Jazz contributor. He lives in Aioi, and would love to hear from you in the comments below or via Facebook. He has never released a country music record.

Similar Posts