Saturday, June 12, 2010

OVER THE TOP

Pianist HiromiSaturdays I am up at 6:00am sharp. This morning I awoke at noon. Last night, I caught your performance with bassist Stanley Clarke at the Sound Board inside Motor City Casino. Not my favorite place to hear a jazz concert. Then again, I am not sure Clarke's set qualifies as such although you all played a few jazz tunes, notably “Three Right Notes". The first half of the performance felt like a rock concert with the digital background and Clarke parading around like a rock-star. My friends, Andy, Marc, and Louie suggested I check you out.

They loved your solo performance at the Detroit Institute of the Arts earlier this year. Louie believe your are skills on par with pianist Art Tatum.Marc, is an important man around the Detroit jazz scene. He publishes Usual Suspects, a weekly jazz e-newsletter, which inform subscribers about upcoming jazz concerts and jazz related events. Marc favor certain jazz musicians and he always explains why. He urged me to attend Clarke’s show, which I did reluctantly because I hate casinos.

Andy, was disappointed drummer Lenny White was absent. The concert promoters pulled the old bait and switch trick, which pissed off Andy because he was expecting to hear Clarke's acoustic band. The promoters listed White, but some hotshot drummer from Chicago performed instead. Andy is a jazz purist at heart, and he was anxious to hear White. Nevertheless, I believe Andy enjoyed the concert anyway.

Hiromi, your performance was over the top. It seemed you had an inexhaustible supply of energy, and I wondered if you drank a six-pack of Red Bull or some other energy drink before the show?

Honestly, after the third tune, I wondered if comparing you to Tatum was far-fetched. However, on the very the next tune, which you played alone, you dispelled any doubts I had. I finally saw the Tatum-like finesse Louie noticed. It sounded as if Tatum and stride pianist Willie "the Lion" Smith spirit's had blessed your hands. I envied how you mixed different piano styles. Did you rehearse? I bet you made it up on the spot. Anyway, that solo was a highlight.

Clarke was quite the showman as expected. He horsed around like a rocker, which the crowd enjoyed. I’m not one for a lot of horseplay, but Clarke made it fun to watch. The man was brilliant all night. He has the stamina of a gladiator. He followed your incredible solo with one of his own. He played his upright bass as if the thing was an oversize guitar. He's heavy-handed like pianist Randy Weston's bassist Alex Blake. At Weston's, gig at Kerrytown Concert House, a few months back, I asked Louie about Blake’s style. Louie said Blake’s style is similar to Moroccan bass players.

From start to finish, you and Clarke had the crowd worked up. I never witnessed so many ovations. I slept late because being at the show was exhausting.
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