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Jazz Walk: Down Beat, a mysterious space where "explosive music" and "immersion" coexist

ジャズ散歩 “爆音”と“没頭”が両立する不思議空間「down beatダウンビート」

"The city of Yokohama is an indispensable part of the story of Japanese jazz."
Yokohama hosts numerous jazz festivals, including the Yokohama Jazz Promenade, the Asahi Jazz Festival, and the Yokohama Honmoku Jazz Festival, and has many jazz spots where you can enjoy live music.
In this series, we will introduce the atmosphere and charm of jazz spots in the prefecture. Even if you are interested in jazz cafes and live houses but think they are too intimidating, you may be able to find a spot that you can easily go to!

The Noge, Isezakicho, and Kannai area in the prefecture is packed with long-established jazz cafes and live music venues. This is the third installment of the series, and we visited "Downbeat," a long-established cafe in Noge that has been in business for 68 years.

The place is called "Downbeat" and is located just one block away from "Music Street".
A red bass-shaped sign leads you up the stairs to a door that looks like the typical Showa-era coffee shop. When you open it and enter, you are first enveloped in a mass of sound, and in the dimly lit orange shop, you can see rows of records and shelves with various posters. There are counter seats to the right and sofa seats in the back left, and the ceiling on the sofa side is covered with records, posters, newspapers, etc.

There happened to be a group of foreigners there, so for a moment I felt like I wasn't in Japan. The loudspeakers in the back and the decorations with musical instrument motifs and photos of musicians displayed here and there made me realize that this was a jazz cafe.

The bar was founded in 1956, but the current owner, Shuhei Yoshihisa, took over from the previous owner eight years ago. He started going there when he was a student because a friend of his was working there part-time, and he began to listen to jazz instead of rock music up until then.

In addition to the Alter A7 speakers that have been on the sofa side since the bar opened, JBL speakers newly selected by Yoshihisa are installed on a shelf on the counter side, allowing you to enjoy sound that is full of a live feeling (you'll find yourself applauding at the end of each song).
The cafe has continued to preserve the unique enjoyment of a jazz cafe, where "listening to jazz at a loud volume is soothing."

The record collection is now at 3,400-3,500 records, but even after taking over the business, the band continues to purchase new records regularly, and continues to promote the appeal of new jazz, with a focus on new jazz, which has been attracting attention at the Grammy Awards recently. The music selection is based on Yoshihisa's "ideas," and 99% of the music is instrumental (music played by instruments without vocals). There are live performances about once every three months.

When it first opened, American soldiers used to perform live music, so it attracts a lot of foreign customers, but recently it has also become more popular with tourists.

As a cafe, they are particular about their coffee, using single beans from Brazil, grinding them one cup at a time, and carefully brewing them using a hand drip filter. When you sit at the counter, the smell of coffee wafts through the air, making you feel warm and cozy.

Although Downbeat has a wide selection of alcoholic drinks, it can be called a bar, but Yoshihisa says he cannot drink a drop of alcohol. He says that he sometimes adds new drinks at the request of customers.

The food selection also includes cakes that go well with coffee (the db Cheesecake has an exquisite harmony of berries and chocolate!) and snacks that go well with alcohol (the naan pizza is a must-try).

At night, most customers drink alcohol, but during the day, it's about half and half. Many regulars come alone, and apart from ordering, they don't say a word, enjoying their time before leaving. There are many regulars who have been coming for years, but don't even know their names. "I'm not that friendly," laughs Yoshihisa, but it feels like that feeling of being left to your own devices creates an incredibly comfortable atmosphere.

The editor who accompanied me said, "(It's loud) but I can immerse myself in my own world. I think I can concentrate and get more done if I work here," to which he replied, "It's very welcome." On top of the counter and across from it are bookshelves, lined with a variety of books, including those related to jazz and Noge. Reading in the loud noise is a happy experience.

This is a place where both jazz lovers and jazz novices can enjoy their time to the fullest.

down beat
Location: 1-43 Hanasakicho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
Business hours: 16:00-23:30 Closed on Mondays


Read the serial article here>>
Jazz Walk from "Jazz Cafe Chigusa" to "Jazz Museum Chigusa"
Jazz Walk: Chojamachi's long-established jazz bar "FIRST"

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