Fans of jazz in and around Yokohama know that the place to head for is Kannai, where there are a goodly number of bars and clubs dotted around the station. One of the most appealing must be Jazz Bar Far Out, just a quick walk from the station, where the intimate atmosphere and funky décor complement the music perfectly.
There's a strong African theme to the décor, with lots of hangings and carvings all around the space. It may seem like an unlikely combination, but it actually works pretty well; it's fun and lively but without being gaudy or attention-grabbing, and along with the soft lighting it creates a relaxed and mellow feeling. Everywhere in the bar there are little touches and adornments that add to the vibe: messages inscribed on the benches in front of the stage area, a carved head watching from the side, a shy rose or two on the bar.
They have different performers playing every night, covering a range of different styles; even in the one night I was there, the two sets included bossa nova and Latin jazz ('The Girl from Ipanema'), sultry torch songs ('Lover Man') and more boppy uptempo numbers ('The Lady is a Tramp'), sometimes punctuated by brief solos showing off the performers' individual talents. The level of virtuosity on display was very high indeed; Far Out also runs a school which gives lessons in vocals and a diverse range of instruments, from double bass and drums to flute and clarinet, so it's no surprise that the musicians are so skilled.
Of course there's also food and drink available to enjoy with the music; pasta dishes, curries and risottos for a full meal, or snacks and nibbles to pick at over the evening. It being a jazz bar, they naturally also have a wide range of whisky on the menu, among them scotch malts such as an aged Macallan and smoky Laphroaig. For the non-drinkers they have a diverse array of herb teas on offer from countries all across Asia and beyond, as far as Egypt for sage tea and Nigeria for hibiscus tea.
For a chilled night with chilled people listening to smooth music over equally smooth food and drinks, head out to Far Out!
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I came to Japan from Manchester, England in summer 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I`m not working I write satire at www.iothern.blogspot.com and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check my youtube channel `CunningPunster` for a taste.