Piano trio for the new generation

Japan’s H Zettrio opened Fuji Rock 2017 at the pre-party then kicked off things at the White Stage on Saturday morning. The band is led by frontman pianist/keyboardist, Masayuki Hiizumi. He’s been producing and playing music for the last 20 years or so and this trio is a great example of the fun he achieves in playing live music.

Hiizumi plays piano like it’s a video game. This trio is unlike any jazz trio you will ever hear. It’s a piano trio for the ADD/video game generation. There’s serious skill involved from the band, but it all comes across in in a light and playful manner. The band typically dresses in clown makeup and wears red noses. This morning on the White Stage was no different.

In their 50 minute time slot, the band, also consisting of a drummer and bassist, whipped through a number of styles and flavors. There was a chilled out feel good number, a carnival like romper, some noisy disjointed smashers and plenty of solos and tangents in between. The bass and drums certainly can keep up, but this is no doubt. Hiizumi’s band. He smashes on his keyboard without missing a note, while dancing, spinning and shouting at the audience below.

It’s an aggressive approach to a piano trio, but one that provides a lot of energy and soul to a setup that has seemingly been played out. H Zettrio is all about having fun and ensuring the crowd does too. It was a great way to kick off this rainy Saturday morning here at Fuji Rock and is a band that will stick with me for some time to come. Highly recommended.

 Photo by Keiko Hirakawa  Text by James Posted on 2017.7.29 11:30