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Hiromi's Sonicwonder At SFJAZZ

Hiromi's Sonicwonder At SFJAZZ

Courtesy Rick Swig


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There were moments during the haunting ballad when Hiromi and O’Farrill seemed to be executing a soulful musical pas de deux.
Hiromi's Sonicwonder
SFJAZZ, Miner Auditorium
San Francisco, CA
April 14, 2024

Hiromi and her merry band of simpatico sonic warriors concluded their San Francisco run at SFJAZZ's Miner Auditorium with an exhilarating jolt of electricity as they dove into their latest release, Sonicwonderland (Concord Records, 2023).

The uniquely coiffed pianist wore a bright yellow dress over black tights and cute sneakers and was in perpetual motion throughout the show. "Sonic" is code for plugged in. "When I use this word, 'sonic,' that's like my electric side," Hiromi said on her website. "I'm using a lot more keyboards compared to my other bands."

For this journey, a Clavia Nord Lead A1 synthesizer sat atop Hiromi's Yamaha grand piano, with a Nord electro SD electric/acoustic keyboard perched just off to the right. Hiromi made ample use of them all. This funkier, plugged-in adventure required a new set of bandmates, and Hiromi tapped Hadrien Feraud to man the bass guitar, along with funk and R&B drummer Gene Coye and Adam O'Farrill playing exquisitely toned trumpet.

On the soulful and loping "Wanted"—the first of several selections from Sonicwonderland—O'Farrill swapped solos with Hiromi as she effortlessly glided among her trio of keyboards hunting the perfect note to offset the trumpeter's invitingly pure tone. The album's title cut was bouncy and unabashedly funky, as Hiromi worked out a seductive groove on the Yamaha and electric and acoustic keyboards, and again swapped musical riffs with O'Farrill. Bass virtuoso Feraud filled out the bottom and drummer Coye maintained a funky beat..

The band slowed it down with the lovely "Polaris," again structured around the intuitive interplay between Hiromi and O'Farrill. There were moments during the haunting ballad when Hiromi and O'Farrill seemed to be executing a playful musical pas de deux, framed by Coye and Feraud, who sometimes strummed his bass like a guitar, as Jaco Pastorius once did.

After taking a bow, the quartet left the stage to enthusiastic applause. Hiromi shortly reappeared and introduced a song titled "Mr.C.C.," dedicated to her favorite actor, Charlie Chaplin. Of course he is. You could just about see the lovable Tramp as Hiromi re-created his hair-raising adventures at a comically frenetic pace on solo acoustic piano.

It was a delightful performance, full of exuberant joy and tenderness. At the end, Hiromi added, "I hope you enjoyed the adventure together."



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