April 8, 2010

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Hiromi Kanda, Hiromi in Love
Music Gate/Warner Records, March 16

Great American Songbook standards lovingly interpreted by the winner of an American Idol precursor from the Japanese TV market. First thing that jumps out at you is the hugeness of Kanda’s backup, the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, whose sweeping breadth is bang on par with any orchestra I’ve heard committed to laser; it realizes the starkly striking photographic images of her jacket shots, depicting her as a perfectly sculpted porcelain diva both physically and musically. Long story short, her keepers in Japan wanted to sell her as a sex thing, but her love for American jazz classics led her stateside for this shot at Jazz Times love, which has already happened to some degree. There’s a clipped deliberateness to her delivery you’d expect from a Japanese lady, but when she’s on, she’s without a doubt world-class (her tone in the chorus of “I’ll Never Smile Again” is solar bright). As everywhere, all is not perfect in this little world — sounding a tad rushed, “Unforgettable” is the weakest link, rightly buried at the last track, but other than that, this is fault-free. A Eric W. Saeger