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  • Jonathan Widran

HIROMI KANDA, Seven Elegant Ballads

In my overwhelmingly positive review of Japanese born vocal interpreter extraordinaire Hiromi Kanda’s 2013 collection Days of Yesterday, I praised her strong supple phrasing, balanced sense of playfulness and emotional intimacy and loving caress of the material.

She brings all those exquisite qualities and even deeper personal touches to her lush and intimate, gorgeously rendered (and highly anticipated!) follow-up Seven Elegant Ballads. Produced by her husband, composer/producer Yusuke Hoguchi and multi-Grammy winning engineer Al Schmitt and featuring a 50+ piece orchestra, the collection allows us to musically time travel to a world where songs were pure eloquence and poetry.

Hiromi’s vision is one where she uses her sensual voice the way a detailed painter uses a brush, coloring our perceptions and overwhelming our hearts with passion. She complements beautiful, delicate yet often swelling renditions of five Great American Songbook gems (“A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square,” “Moonlight in Vermont,” “Around the World,” “Smile” and “Don’t Blame Me”) with welcome revisits of her and Hoguchi;s originals equally lovely and poignant originals “Days of Yesterday” and “Twilight Tears” – both of which appeared on her previous album. Testament to the couple’s songwriting prowess, they fit in perfectly among the standards.

Another wonderful element of the project is the opportunity to hear three songs featuring the soulful piano work of the late great Joe Sample.

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