Whew, I am still putting my mind back together after having it scrambled in the best possible ways by master jazz bassist Stanley Clarke, his long time partner in crime from Return to Forever Lenny White on drums and rising jazz superstar Hiromi on piano. To say this show was mind blowing is an understatement, this trio utilized its many and varied strengths in presenting an exciting and riveting set to a small but enthusiastic crowd of app. 150 music lovers at the second show of the night with two more tonight. If not for the Vikes-Packers game tonight I would either be there again or at the Adrian Belew Power Trio show at the Cedar Cultural Center.
With a quick click of the sticks by White, the band dove right into the opening number with Hiromoi pushing the tempo and leading the charge, her right hand a blur of movement and her whole body rocking frenetically with the beat. With the chops of an old school jazz master with the intensity of a punk rocker she was a joy to watch as she led the band for the first of many flights into the stratosphere. Clarke did not rest on his laurels either delivering a fevered solo of his own which resulted with he and Hiromi doing a call and response pattern on the song's main theme.
The next tune was based on an ancient Japanese melody line and found Hiromi playing the inside piano strings like a harp. While White played gently on the cymbals Clarke plunged into some deep chording and tied the pieces of the song together while Hiromi took of on her own flights of fancy and played alternating passages of light and ethereal and dark and forboding. Truly an intense tune!
The third tune was led by Clarke as he would bow the strings and then switch into some fierce popping and strumming of the upright bass. White's drumming was sublime as he rode hard on the cymbals and then would softly play on the snare and toms while Hiromi would switch between supporting Clarke's lead or take some incredibly fast runs on the keys. The next tune featured White's drumming as he would take a number of small solo passages that then would be responded to by Clarke or Hiromi or the two of them in unison. I was fortunate enough to be seated a mere six feet from Hiromi and it was amazing to hear her feet stomping and watch her whole body rocking in time to the song.
For the encore the trio deconstructed the Red Hot Chili Peppers tune Under the Bridge, which featured Hiromi's fractured piano parts augmented by Clarke's finger popping an acoutsic bass guitar which led to one of the show's most dramatic moments as his bass began to feed back on him and he was forced to cut his volume pot to zero to bring the feedback under control - the band was seemingly unfazed as Hiromi just launched into another even more intense solo passage.
I hope that I did justice in the review to what was a truly astounding and powerful performance by three top notch musicians playing at the top of their skill levels. A fine night of musical exploration by the band and enjoyment by an enthusiastic and responsive crowd, a great Sunday evening of jazz that any music lover would have enjoyed!
wow! sounds brilliant. Thanks for the review.