Catalina Jazz Club
August 6, 2017
We were amongst only a handful of early arrivals for a show at the Catalina Jazz Club in North Hollywood CA. A quite casually dressed Asian woman was on the stage carefully cleaning and fussing about on the piano. Her shoulder length hair covered much of her face as she leaned over and delicately manicured this fine instrument. A few minutes had passed when she turned a different direction and stood up straight. Her face was now completely in view. It was the beautiful face of Hiromi
herself. Somewhat incognito, she was clearly as concerned with the details and perfection of her Yamaha as she was in her brilliantly sophisticated music.
A short time later a much different looking Hiromi stepped on to the stage accompanied by drummer Simon Phillips
and bassist Hadrien Feraud
. She was now fashionably dressed with her hair high above her head in her trademark fashion. She also wore a most engaging smile.
This was a trio project performance minus impeccable bassist Anthony Jackson
. Jackson, as well as Phillips, had been part of all four of Hiromi's Trio Project recordings and had played on all previous tours. Unable to make this, and several other performances, Jackson's place was filled by Feraud.
The concert started with an almost indescribable energy. It was an energy that most satisfyingly never waned at any time all the way through a thoroughly amazing show. The music was rich and intense yet passionate and sublime at the same time. I was moved and entranced at such a charismatic performance.
Hiromi's mastery of composition is matched only by her extraordinary skills on the piano. She played with such unbridled and spirited passion. She was sitting, she was standing, and she was sitting and standing again. In near constant motion she punctuated and flourished throughout. The audience was enthralled by her, as well as the collective efforts of the trio, as they treated us to songs from her most recent release Spark
, as well as from the previous trio efforts Voice
, and Move
Phillips dazzled with a sensationally dynamic and intricate performance. His seamless progressions and substantial fills complemented Hiromi to perfection. The artistic complexities he displayed on his Tama kit gave me a sore neck as it was on a nearly continual swivel all evening between Hiromi and Phillips as I didn't want to miss anything either one was doing.
The excitement of having the opportunity to play with Hiromi as well as the daunting task of filling in for Jackson was a double-edged sword for Feraud. He managed to raise a few eyebrows with some keenly deft playing. He smartly didn't overplay. He knew when to lay back and kept the ship steady.
It was Hiromi's magnificent gift that we all came to see and hear. I felt like it was Christmas and my birthday all rolled in to one with the abundance of gifts she shared that night. She had such a joy in her playing. Even when playing a fast complex piece she would turn and smile at the audience. It was like the smile of a young woman having fun.