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Music Review

Last One to Know

Ester Hana
By Ester Hana
Reissued by Lampkin Music Group
Distributed by O.C. Records 1-888-627-3993

I could not take my eyes off her, mesmerized by the lightness of her fingers teasing the notes, chords, melody to spill over, overwhelming me.

Isn't that the usual case when one comes upon what feels is a personal discovery? Should one spread the word? I say, only to kindred souls. But how can I keep it to myself when I am bursting at the seams? I bring to anyone willing to discover: Ester Hana in Passport, a CD featuring the artist's solo performance as vocalist and Herself on the piano. The selections alternate her vocal talent and her artistry on the keys.

Passport pays tribute to songs around the world. Vocalist Ester Hana pays tribute to a variety of composers, whose compositions favor her timorous, languid voice. To be on point, I heard an actress in the voice, interpreting the heart's desperation. Heard abandonment by the beloved in French, German and English ("Ne me quitte pas"). Most intriguing to this newcomer is "Grande, Grande, Grande" (Newell, Tonyrenis, Testa) and Hana's charmingly affectionate invitation, "Let's Eat Home" (Frishberg).

I met the artist in Chicago at The Sherwood Conservatory for a concert headlined by violinist Stephen Shey and the Heritage Guild Singers where Ester Hana was among the featured solo artists. The program listed Buencamino's Mayon. The MC introduced "Ester Hana on the piano." Not ever having heard the piece before, I had no preconceived music "waiting in the wings." But once begun, I sat up to pay closer attention, and to view the performer on the piano. There is an attitude the audience responds to in a concert performance. It is when the performer dominates the stage with his/her presence, unhurried, yet persuasively taking hold of the audience. I could not take my eyes off her, mesmerized by the lightness of her fingers teasing the notes, chords, melody to spill over, overwhelming me. I speak for myself because half in the audience that evening were probably familiar with Ester Hana. Not me. Mayon, as interpreted by Hana, is delightful homecoming: joy infused by an unforgiving ache. How can one not follow, not be beguiled?

That was it. One piece. One night. I thus tucked into memory Ester Hana's name. A week later I received her CD in the mail with the musical score of Mayon (a favor I had asked for after the concert). I took my own sweet time before trying out the CD. Surprise! It's now a morning wake up call. Hana marking my driving time, my Metro time. Hana in the evenings. Hana all my days.

© Remé Grefalda

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