The S&R Foundation’s Overtures Concert Series kicked off its 2013 summer season with an evening of jazz with pianist Eishin Nose and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi in the beautiful Garden Room at Evermay Estate, Friday, July 19.
Mr. Nose, winner of the Foundation’s 2009 Washington Award, began the evening with a riveting improvisation aptly titled, “Free Improvisation.” The arrangement reminded me of elements heard in the innovative arrangements of Vince Guaraldi, known for his compositions for the animated adaptations of the Peanuts comic strips. The selection was melodic and whimsical, and was an excellent musical definition of freedom.
“Mr. Takeishi, Mr. Nose’s percussionist was amazing!” my husband remarked as the final note of the second composition “Feeling of Gospel” was performed. “He is amazing! He’s doing the work of three men.” I concurred, as he looked as if it were all effortless, which is the trick that all great artists and musicians play on their audiences. Musicianship and artistic genius require much of their performers, but great musicians and artists rise to the occasion with an ease that is awe-inspiring. The audience members were definitely transported to a spiritual place.
During the evening’s performance, Mr. Nose took a brief intermission to introduce himself to the audience. His performance at the piano gave the impression of a poised and serious artist and he was those things but during his remarks to the audience, he also showed a different side of himself, a young man who was quite funny, with a quick wit and self-deprecating humor. The audience especially enjoyed the phonetic explanation he provided for the pronunciation of his name, which was “Eye, because you have an eye and shin like the knee. Get it? Eye-shin.” His explanation of Nose (pronounced N0-say) was equally entertaining.
Mr. Nose deviated from the program to play “Ibuki,” a composition written in response to the earthquake and tsunami which devastated Japan. “Ibuki” means a new beginning, something new, and was first performed at a charity event as an encouragement for the people of Japan to move on as a people and to overcome this great tragedy. A hauntingly beautiful piece, it evoked hope and a spirit of perseverance in the listener.
Another piece which resonated on an emotional level with the audience was “Cuba.” Mr. Nose had the opportunity to visit Cuba years ago and the beaches and water reminded him of his hometown. The composition was nostalgic with a bit of melancholy and the audience was able to feel these emotions on a very personal level as he played.
In speaking with Mr. Nose after the performance, I found him to be a humble man and very engaging. When asked about his musical influences, he mentioned the greats like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk. It was interesting to learn that he was a late bloomer in music, his first passion was basketball. When he came to the US in the early ’90s his dream was to be the next Spud Webb, but his musical destiny took shape and he’s been forging ahead ever since.
He further remarked that this was his second time in Washington DC and, while we are known for being a political town, we have a strong artistic heritage and pedigree as well. “Washington DC represents the American dream for me. I received such great reaction from the audience here. The people here have come to hear my music, unlike Japan where it’s expected to hear the standards. I gained a lot of confidence after winning the [S&R Foundation Washington] award in 2009.
Finally, when asked what he would say to other young people who aspire to pursue a career in the arts, he said, “Enjoy what you do! Follow your feeling that you love. If you have a talent but you don’t love it, you won’t be successful. Follow your passion.”
Truer words have never been spoken.