Perfection old and new

is what you get when you combine a funkily sublime old vaudeville theater and a performance by a Japanese avant-garde jazz pianist and composer at the height of her career.

Sony Hall had opened in Times Square in 1938 as the Diamond Horseshoe, and became one of the iconic venues of the vaudeville circuit. Later it hosted a long-running avant-garde show called Queen of the Night. When Sony acquired it, the theater had somehow retained its original furnishings, like the decorative disk that graces the ceiling over the audience, and the buyers were smart enough to retain the fixtures, and décor and the painting.

The food was good; the potatoes purple.

By the time Hiromi came on stage, the audience was primed. Japanese families filled the front rows.

The rest were serious fans already, including our neighbor Andrew, a Polish IT guy who it seems follows her from show to show. She inspires super-fandom.

Hiromi appeared.

She gracefully introduced the quartet accompanying her. They were “new,” she said, and from all over.

How would you describe Hiromi’s composing, and her playing? A tickle and a romp, with stride jazz flourishes and soulful  trills reminiscent of the old country. She stamped her gold sneakers, stood up, sat down, grimaced and grinned at the audience as though we were all in on her marvelous joke. She was funny. She had fun! She was explosive, with her lightning fast fingers.

Hiromi has said, “I don’t want to put a name on my music. Other people can put a name on what I do. It’s just the union of what I’ve been listening to and what I’ve been learning. It was some elements of classical music, it has some rock, it has some jazz, but I don’t need to give it a name.” Born in Japan ini 1979, she started lessons at six, and her teacher had her use color to develop her chops, saying Play red if it was something passionate or Play blue if it should be a mellow sound. She is well known for the album she recorded with Chick Corea, whom she met when she was seventeen.

The accompanists were tight, totally matched to her at times wild and galloping melodies. The Live-Shrieber-resembling first violinist should probably have his own show, he was that good.

The piece she performed, titled Silver Lining Suite, told a personal story of the pandemic in musical harmonies. There will be a lot of compositions on this theme, in all the arts, I am sure. But her interpretation was spectacular. She brought the past and present together with soul and charm.

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