Hiromi live at the Esplanade!

Caught jazz pianist Hiromi live in concert just now. It was a powerful performance all the way. Decisive and accurate keystrokes peppered with humour and always a smile.
However, the concert began with a big hiccup – there was a sound problem for the bassist. We waited for a couple of minutes while a technician came on stage to configure the setup. Hiromi decided to play a little tune on the piano to keep us entertained.
Then when all was fixed, the bass and drums joined in. We were treated to some songs from her new album.
What was good was the big screen above her band, which let us view them from different angles. At times, the camera singled in on Hiromi’s hands, so we could see her technique in greater detail.
On a couple of occasions, she used her fist to bang a cluster of black keys. Once she not only used her fist but also the upper arm, just below her wrist, to hit some white keys.
Another unusual technique was the plucking of piano strings. It was right after the break and she had walked up to the piano, looking like she was reaching out for some hidden microphone inside. I think the cameramen mistook this for another technical issue and the big screen showing a close-up of her hands, went blank. But when they realised she was actually making music by plucking the piano strings, the screen went back on.
She not only plucked the strings – she hit the corresponding keys as well. That produced another unique sound. Also, her drummer sometimes used his hands when he needed the percussions to sound softer.
There were a few good bass solos. When her bassist hit the high notes, I suddenly realised that was the sound I was trying to re-create on my own Korg Triton. I had so many sounds on that keyboard but couldn’t recapture that sound I’ve heard in various electric jazz guitar albums such as Lee Ritenour’s Alive in LA. I thought it was a different type of jazz guitar sound which I didn’t have, but now I know it could have been a bass guitar instead.
I managed to get Hiromi’s autograph, though I did not bring my digital camera (it was recuperating after 2 days of Lexus Cup followed by the YAH anniversary bash) so I used my Dopod and despite the fact that the area was lit, the photos came out so blur I’m embarassed to upload them here.
Anyway, it was a good night. Hiromi received three standing ovations and gave two encores. Some members of the audience walked off right away, thinking that the show was over. In fact almost everyone sitting on my right had walked off and missed the final encore! Others realised that Hiromi had gone back on stage, and scurried back to their seats.
Some musicians make you want to buy their CDs after attending their concert. Well, Hiromi can make you feel like buying a DVD!
Check out Hiromi’s blog. It’s in Japanese, but it’s a photo blog so it reads just like… a menu, what with snapshots of Singapore food. Hey, she was with the Yellowjackets too! Cool.
Technorati Tags: jazz, Esplanade, Hiromi


  1. Kevin

    If you like great guitar, TasteTV.com has a segment on what is called “The real Pick of Destiny, the Light Show Guitar Pick,” that glows to the beat when you play with it. It’s also supposed to make your performance more interesting, the sound quality better. You decide. It’s cool either way. Watch it here on TasteTV.

  2. Auraburn

    Hi Van, the concert was totally awesome. I was so impressed with her playing and composition. she really does think out of the box with her fist playing, and string plucking to achieve different sounds.. and she connects well with her audience. And she totally connected with the guitarist and drummer.
    Too bad the concert was held in a confined space..open air concert atmostphere will be totally infectious! I brought two laymen frens and they were totally blown away..

  3. vantan

    Ivan – I was supposed to pull you? Anyway:
    1) I’ve never heard Hiromi before this, so didn’t know for sure if she was really good as other said she was.
    2) Someone else invited me to the concert.
    There was a good local band at the YAH bash too, the previous night but pity you couldn’t make it 🙁

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