A talented musician, a gifted jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, Hiroe Sekine (Hee-ROE-ay Say-KEE-Neh) approaches jazz standards and her compositions using her very original voices and colors -- modern and fresh, yet classic. She has been writing and performing for nearly 20 years both in Japan and the U.S. Being a dedicated and truly professional musician, her energy and stage presence at her live concerts have proved magnetic to many audiences. a-me (Ah-MAY) is her debut album.
A native of Japan, Hiroe started playing at the age of four, imitating her mother playing Japanese folk songs on a pedal organ. A year later, she began learning classical piano -- but simply reading music and playing what other people wrote was not for her. Combining a desire to create new melodies with her great ear for jazz, Hiroe's arranging and composing talents bloomed.
While a music student at USC, Hiroe's abilities as a composer and arranger earned her the school's Discovery Scholars" and Jazz Chamber Music Ensemble" Awards in 2009.
a-me is my first full-fledged album that showcases where I am now as an artist in my musical journey," says Hiroe. When I came up with the idea to bundle all the things I have been playing and writing, I talked to Russell Ferrante -- who is one of my mentors -- about the idea. Not only is he an amazing player and writer, but he is also a great producer: he respected my musical ideas and brought this album several notches up. He created a very comfortable situation so I could just concentrate on creating music during the recording session.
I was so lucky to be able to work with such wonderful musicians in this album. The experiences I had during the recording session are jewels. The musicians always saw the music as a whole picture, like looking at the forest instead of the trees that appear one after another right in front of them. Because some of my arrangements are intricate, they could sound hysterical if played without good control. No matter where my arrangements went, they took care of them so gracefully and smoothly, like Kung Fu masters. Their incredible performances definitely helped my works sound embellished and enhanced.
I really love and enjoy arranging jazz standard tunes. To me, arranging is like shopping for new clothes; trying on and off different colors, shapes, and styles one after another and finding what looks fresh and works best for me. There is so much music out there today that is accessible to us, and it's exciting to find some new music everyday. I like to be open to any music from various different cultures and genres and keep adding those ideas to my library, hoping that someday they will be reflected in my arrangements and compositions."