Words : Tomoaki Baba
Edit : Daisuke Inoue
Styling : Daisuke Araki
Photography : Kento Mori
Hair & Make-Up : Katsuyoshi Kojima (TRON)
Special Thanks : Pitt Inn, Disk Union Shinjuku Jazz Kan



  • I was born and raised in Hokkaido, and came to know of Shinjuku because of a jazz club called Pit Inn. After beginning to learn saxophone at a jazz school for children in Sapporo, Japanese jazz scene and professional jazz musicians started to draw my interest. Pit Inn was one of the clubs I constantly checked to know what kind of live shows they did. But my first visit to the place was much later than that because I moved to the U.S. to study soon after graduating high school. I first played there in April 2021 when being invited by guitarist May Inoue who also graduated from Berklee College of Music after coming back to Japan from New York.
  • How I felt my first performance there? I was simply happy, appreciating the fact that I was at THE Pit Inn. This was purely my speculation but I got a silly idea that they might apply pressure to me with a thought, “It doesn’t matter whether he just finished his study at the U.S., show us what you’ve got”, because all the staff at Pit Inn are well-versed in music. Of course, I was wrong and enjoyed playing so much that I stayed there after the gig to have drinks with them until around 3AM.
  • I have played there a few times since then, and find it interesting that Pit Inn invites a wider variety of musicians than any other jazz clubs. Besides authentic jazz musicians, other types of musicians who play rock or experimental music have performed at the venue. They also accept songs and music with heavy effects, while most of long-standing clubs avoid them. I think such an open-minded and uncommitted attitude have been favored by prominent musicians and people with discerning ears.
  • For me, too, it’s not a big deal whether music I play is jazz or not. I’d rather want to be involved with various types of expressions with my jazz skills. It hasn’t changed since I studied at Berklee College of Music, so I have once learned about music used at fashion shows and done modelling for an online fashion magazine run by my friend. I actually wore ENGINEERED GARMENTS clothes at that time and have been a fan of the brand since then. So, it makes me feel very emotional to participate in this shooting (laughs).
  • If I pick another favorite place in Shinjuku, it must be disk union Shinjuku Jazz Kan. Shun Ishiwaka, a drummer who are the same age and learned at the same jazz school as me, went on to a high school in Tokyo, so I frequented the record shop when visiting his place. Around that time, I liked to listen to overseas jazz musicians who were not known in Japan more than all-time classics, and disk union Shinjuku Jazz Kan carried many CDs made by such less-known musicians. It was unusual in those days. Because there was no music streaming platform then and it wasn’t so easy to listen to a lot of different music, I often looked for musicians who participated in the works of musicians I found at disk union Shinjuku Jazz Kan for additional new discoveries.
  • And they have a great selection of vinyls, too, you know. I recently had many opportunities that make me feel appealing to listen to music via vinyls. I don’t own a record player, though. I’ve been thinking to buy one but just put it off. But a wide range of records I saw today, from newly pressed ones to rare presses, made me almost into it so much that I can’t find my way out (laughs). I’m now eager to play vinyls at home soon. I’d also like to press my album to vinyl.
  • Though Tokyo cityscapes have become less and less characteristic due to the recent redevelopments, Shinjuku is one of few towns that still have a chaotic, downtown-like atmosphere, I think. It is the place where we can find both new and old stuff, and huge department stores like Isetan and tiny old specialized shops coexist. And I personally love traditional Japanese-style bars, so-called akachochin, and there are many of them in Kabukicho and Shinjuku San Chome. Just like music and artworks, things naturally generated from various mixed elements are surely more interesting than neatly organized things. Shinjuku attracts me because such one-and-only unique characteristics are still much in evidence there.

Photo : Hachi Ooshio

/ Shinjuku Pit Inn
東京都新宿区新宿2-12-4 アコード新宿ビルB1F
B1F Accord Shinjuku Bldg., 2-12-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

In December 24th, 1965, Pit Inn opened behind Shinjuku Kinokuniya. It was a just café with jazz music in the background at the beginning, but later changed to a jazz club with live performances. Since the relocation to the current address in 1992, their opening hours have been divided into two, daytime and nighttime. From Japan’s legendary jazz players to up-and-coming young performers, musicians from a wide range of generations deliver energetic performances every day at the venue.
Tomoaki Baba : Born in 1992 in Hokkaido. Saxophone player, composer and arranger. He first learned saxophone at Sapporo Junior Jazz School in 2000. Since entering Berklee College of Music in Boston, the U.S., as a full scholarship student in 2011, he has co-performed with many prestigious musicians around the world. In 2020, he released album STORYTELLER under his name for the first time, and move from New York to Tokyo in the fall. His second album titled GATHERING was released in 2022. He performs for 2023 anime movie BLUE GIANT as the protagonist, Dai Miyamoto, in the scenes he plays saxophone. As a new-generation jazz musician, Baba now draws much attention from various fields.