For Your Ears
I was only out of town for four nights and it feels like I’ve missed an entire lifetime of Chicago culture. I will be remedying that void beginning today:
I saw Hiromi at the Ravinia Festival a few years back, not only with her wild electronic trio but also in a solo lecture recital. She opened with an aggressive and eclectic take on I’ve Got Rhythm that undoubtedly kicked the crap out of my ears. I would say she’s got the chops stylistically—not just technically—and that’s what makes her so exciting to listen to. Anything’s fair game: she illustrated in four bars of music how Chopin Études worked wonders for her Stride Piano, and when a questioneer demanded more Classical-Jazz fusion, she gave us a Bluezy rendition of the theme from Pictures at an Exhibition. It was one of the most melancholy and contemplative variations I had ever heard. I just spent the last hour searching for YouTube videos of a possible encore performance… Perhaps I witnessed the only one?
Two other moments really stuck out for me that day:
1. Hiromi confessing to the audience that “the hardest part is trying to not repeat myself every night.” There it is, the Jazz musician in a sentence.
2. After swooning over her passionate solo work, I got to hear the main event where she played with her trio. Her electronic keyboards rocking out alongside the blasting bass and drums forced a woman out the door (shuddering, grieving) before even a minute of the performance was up. I was just as rudely awakened, but that ended up being a good thing.
I last saw eighth blackbird perform at Millennium Park this summer for their Steve Reich 75th birthday concert. The program not only included his mesmerizing Music for 18 Musicians, but they interspersed the live pieces with his tape compositions which were projected across the pavilion through the 200+ speaker system. Sick sonic landscape, bro. But the older gentlemen behind me seemed to be in perpetual agony as he quested for a coherent melody, and thus actual music by his definition. He didn’t find it, but he managed to stay for the entire concert, which I was both impressed by and grateful for. If only that woman at the Hiromi concert had had his patience.
The concert will also feature Amy Briggs who is just as fierce a pianist as Hiromi. I was looking for a video of Briggs playing some of the Ligeti Études which I saw her perform a while back, but instead I came across this:
How’s that for a cyclical post?