Review: Patrick Shiroishi Nonet Live at Ham & Eggs (Los Angeles)

On March 12, I had the opportunity to hear three great sets of music in the Late Breakfast series at Ham & Eggs in downtown Los Angeles. These culminated with alto saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi leading a nine-piece band that included voice, two flutes, tenor saxophone, guitar, bass, cello, and harmonium. The one extended piece they performed was a highly sophisticated melding of all nine instruments through sustained drones. The sounds wavered with the vocalist gradually emerging from the rest. The instrumentalists occasionally asserted themselves individually with brief solos, but the focus was more on group play: intertwined voices generally at peace with each other, swelling with an organic pulse, at all times engaging with varying levels of dissonance that grew as the music evolved. The two flutes often led as the fiercest edges of the sound while the strings added an ethereal quality and saxophones and harmonium kept it grounded with a rich internal cohesion. This music, alive at every corner, grew through the first twenty or more minutes before hitting a peak and then transitioning quickly in slow descent towards the conclusion. The music affected me deeply and seemed to have a similar effect upon the audience. Haunting, ambient, mournful, at times. Shiroishi is a significant figure on the Los Angeles improvised and experimental music scene that has emerged since releasing his first record in 2013. Keep an eye on his future work as a measure of the pulse of LA.

Shiroishi’s nonet was preceded by a solo cello performance by Jason Adams and a solo guitar/synth performance by Richard McLaughlin.

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