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Patrick Shiroishi – Hidemi (2021 24/44 FLAC)

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Patrick Shiroishi - Hidemi (2021 24/44 FLAC)

Patrick Shiroishi – Hidemi (2021 24/44 FLAC)

Artist: Patrick Shiroishi
Album: Hidemi
Release/Reissue: 2021
Genre: Jazz

01. Beachside Lonelyhearts
02. Tule Lake Like Yesterday
03. Jellyfish in the Sky
04. What Happens When People Open Their Hearts
05. Stand Up and Let Us Go and Witness This Ourselves
06. To Kill a Wind-Up Bird
07. Without the Threat of Punishment There Is No Joy in Flight
08. The Dowager’s Clipped Wings
09. The Long Bright Dark

“The concentration camps that Japanese Americans had to go through has been a major part of my work for the last couple of years,” says Los Angeles based composer and saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi. His last album Descension was heavily focused on the experience inside Japanese-American concentration camps, but his new album Hidemi, a solo multilayered woodwind journey, is more on the personal experience of his grandfather after getting out. “His name is Hidemi Patrick,” Shiroishi explains, “so I was named after him, but I never got to meet him, as he passed away before I was born.” As Patrick’s name is in memory to his grandfather, Hidemi is too, and across the album’s nine tracks, Shiroishi brings the listener through tension and release, showcasing something unfiltered, beautiful, and ultimately hopeful, a testament to perseverance and grace.

If you’ve ever wondered what trios, quartets, and quintets of Patrick Shiroishi’s sounded like, Hidemi was made for you. All of the album was written and performed by Shiroishi who sang and played alto, baritone, tenor, C melody, and soprano saxophones, stacking up layers of harmonies often each recorded in one take. The album’s opening blasts on “Beachside Lonelyhearts” blow the doors open, but are quickly replaced by loping, interplaying melodies that swell, recede, then slowly, methodically shuffle off. Other songs like “To Kill A Wind-Up Bird” start with woodwind flurries and free jazz that metamorphosize into something serene before Shiroishi’s baritone sax, breaks open the piece, and brings back the beginning’s composed but frenetic energy.

Shiroishi wanted to allow for community expression, too, to be a part of Hidemi regarding the Asian-American experience, so he curated and edited a chapbook featuring writings and art by fellow Asian-American artists – Tangled. The book was made to provide a platform for thoughts considering the recent rise of violence against Asian-Americans due to racism spurred by misinformation on Covid-19, and features artists such as Dylan Fujioka, Mai Sugimoto, Tashi Dorji & Susie Ibarra.

In an evocative, personal essay from Tangled, Shiroishi explains the Japanese concept of “‘gaman,’ which means to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity, or simply put, to bite your tongue.” It’s a chilling, profound passage in which the history of Japanese-Americans have had to “gaman” with Shiroishi ultimately stating that “We can no longer ‘gaman.’ We must be loud and speak up, so what our grandparents and ancestors went through will not be forgotten or taken for granted.”

Hidemi functions as a warning, but there is ecstasy and hope in it, too. In the last song “The Long Bright Dark,” a short, blossoming tear-jerker that crescendos with Shiroishi’s vocals, the artist cries out in Japanese “Is This The End Of The Storm?” It’s the sole sung passage in Hidemi, but its effectiveness is chill-inducing – it contextualizes everything, pushing forward while acknowledging historical evil. It’s moving and impactful, moving towards a society where – in his essay he writes – “our children and future generations may live without fear. So that they won’t have to “gaman.”