I just ran across a picture that brought back memories of the first time I met Japanese clarinetist Ryoichi Kawai. Ryoichi came to town in 1966 with his Osaka-based New Orleans Rascals and impressed local jazz aficionados with his phenomenal ability to copy his idol George Lewis. George had toured Japan in 1963, playing to packed houses of adoring fans, and making friends with Ryoichi and his band. When Ryoichi and the Rascals arrived at New Orleans airport, George was there to greet them with an impromptu brass band. I was at George's side, playing my Albert system clarinet as he had taught me to do it. The Rascals were thrilled by the jazz serenade and broke out their instruments as soon as the exited the plane. This photo shows me (at about age 17), George, and a partially obscured Ryoichi. The Rascals played concerts at Tulane's Dixon Hall, at Preservation Hall and other venues and charmed everyone not only with their music but with their polite reverence for the jazz tradition that they were spreading on the other side of the world. I met up with Ryoichi and the Rascals years later at the Ascona Jazz Festival in Switzerland. In 2010, Ryoichi and I crossed paths again at the Rapperswil Festival, also in Switzerand, and teamed up on a couple of numbers that have since found their way onto youtube. Check them out if you're curious to hear what two George Lewis-inspired clarinets from opposite ends of the earth sound like when they get together. I think George would be pleased by the tribute.