Cotton Club Tokyo features daily live performances showcasing top artists around the world
I was amazed. The music coming from the stage was so melodic and fluid that it simply flowed. The swinging piano was alive and dynamic, and each note was perfectly accompanied by the rhythm section of the bass and the drum. With your eyes closed, you might think that you were sitting in a New York City Jazz club of yesteryear. After all, performing on the stage was Hod O’Brien, the 77-year-old pianist who had seen it all, and who still plays with the same classic bop style like he did back in the 50s.
Yet, here I was, in modern day Tokyo, in an elegant and intimate venue in Marunouchi. Opened on November 22, 2005, with an aim to, “bring back the glitter and sparkle of the golden era,” Cotton Club Tokyo has since gained a loyal following among the city’s jazz enthusiasts, as well as people who simply want a good evening out with fine live music, wine and food.
The original Cotton Club in Harlem, N.Y., which operated from 1923 to 1940, was a place where Jazz legends were born. Numerous big stars, such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Lena Horne graced its stage and made their marks. Today, Cotton Club Tokyo features daily live performances showcasing renowned music legends, top artists, and rising stars from around the world as well as Japan. Since 2005, Cotton Club Tokyo has brought in legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal, pop diva Rickie Lee Jones, R&B legend Ben E. King, and The Crusaders, among many others.
A glance at the present and upcoming performance schedule shows familiar names such as Jane Monheit, Freddy Cole, as well as homegrown talent Shinji Harada. If you are lucky, you might even get to see some of the forgotten names on stage. The Japanese are knowledgeable music lovers who always show their respect to artists, even those who might not be among the current favorites – a trait that I find admirable and one of the reasons that I like the country’s jazz clubs, such as the Cotton Club Tokyo.
Two sittings are scheduled every evening, the first one at 7:00pm and the other at 9:00pm. The well-designed and intimate venue, which has a seating capacity of about 180, is always packed with a big crowd. The performance is obviously a prime factor, but the fine dining experience is not to be overlooked.
The Cotton Club offers fine dishes sourced from the best local ingredients. A glance at the current menu reveals items such as, “Grilled ‘Wagyu’ Beef Fillet Steak dressed with Red Wine Sauce, served with Truffles and Potato Croquette, Grilled ‘Yamayuri’ Pork Loin Chops dressed with Madeira Wine Savory Mustard Sauce, Roasted ‘Datte’ Chicken Thigh and Vinegar Stewed Chicken Shin served with Panfried Foie Gras, dressed with Morel Mushroom Sauce” – to name but a few.
The extensive wine list, which includes cocktails created from the club’s original recipe, whiskies, champagnes, beers, vodkas and fine wines of all vintages from renowned wineries, are another main draw of the club. A Sommelier is on site to provide guidance to those who might want to experience something new from the impressive selection.
If I had to use one word to describe the Cotton Club Tokyo, it would be “immaculate.” Location, decor, service, the dining experience, and of course the performances are all immaculate. The sophisticated and well-dressed crowd was also engaging and gave a big applause after every solo. The only omission (and a most welcome one) was the smoky air of an old jazz club. It’s a joy to go back in time with the Cotton Club Tokyo; and be a part of a memorable performance by the Hod O’Brien Trio.
Photography by COTTON CLUB Japan Inc.
TOKIA 2F, TOKYO Bldg., 2-7-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-6402
Hours 5:00pm – 11:00pm *Sat, Sun & holidays 4:00pm – 10:30pm
Reservations & Inquiries（11:00am – 10:30pm *Sat, Sun & holidays 11:00am – 9:00pm）