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The Japanese concept of gaman – 我慢 – means to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity, or simply put, to bite your tongue. American-Japanese, Los Angeles-based sax player-composer reflects on gaman in the most gracious and compassionate way possible in his solo album, «Hidemi». The album relates to the life and values of the hard-working, generous and spiritual, third-generation Japanese-American Hidemi Pat Shiroishi, Patrick’s grandfather who passed away before he was born, and who was a model for young Patrick Shiroishi. Like many other Japanese-American, he was imprisoned during WWII for four years in a concentration camp near Tule Lake, before he managed to complete his college studies.

Patrick Shiroishi already reflected on this dark era in American history in his solo album «Descension» (Thin Wrist Recordings, 2020), where he added electronics to his tenor sax. But It is clear that the harrowing experience of his grandfather, as well as of his grandmother, even though she refused to elaborate on it with young Shiroishi, and its moral lessons have a seminal effect on Shiroshi as an artist and activist. You can read more about it in the touching and evocative «Gaman» that Shiroishi contributed to the chapbook that he curated and edited «Tangled – A Collection of Writings from Asian American Musicians» (2021), conceived as a platform for thoughts considering the recent rise of violence against Asian-Americans due to racism spurred by misinformation on Covid-19.

«Hidemi» is a solo multilayered woodwind journey – Shiroishi sings and plays the alto, baritone, tenor, C melody, and soprano saxophones, and relates to the personal experience of his grandfather, after getting out from the concentration camp, As Patrick’s name is in memory of his grandfather, The nine short and dense pieces navigate through tension and releases, urgent anger and thoughtful meditation, beautiful and emotional melodies and frenetic cries and shouts. These arresting pieces swing between chaos and hope. You can sense the rich legacy of jazz and free jazz throughout the layered sax choir of Shiroishi, who incorporates the innovative work of such great musicians and bands like the World Saxophone Quartet, Evan Parker and Peter Brötzmann.

«Hidemi» is one of the rare albums that seizes the listener immediately and from its first sounds with its pure emotional energy and its raw, unfiltered beauty. The effect intensifies with each listening. This album reflects on a dark era but its message is hopeful, a testament to perseverance and grace. And like all great works of art, its music motivates us to speak up, loud and clear, and maybe not be gaman anymore. So the chilling history of Shoroishi’s grandparents, and other ancestors of ours, will not be forgotten or taken for granted.

Eyal Hareuveni

Patrick Shiroishi (v, as, bs, tenor saxophone, C melody s, ss)


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