Japanese keyboardist and songwriter Masayuki Hirano (BIGYUKI) performs at Next Stage Arts on Friday, December 17th at 7:30 p.m. The performance begins with a solo set on grand piano by “NYC’s secret weapon,” followed by a trio set with Randy Runyon on guitar and Tim “Smithsoneon” Smith on drums.
“We’re excited to bring BIGYUKI’s unique blend of genres to Putney,” says Keith Marks, Executive Director of Next Stage Arts. “He epitomizes the broad reach and experimentation that Next Stage is becoming known for.”
Ground-breaking songwriter and virtuoso keyboard player Masayuki Hirano is referred to in the industry as “NYC’s secret weapon.” He’s the musical equivalent of a savant linguist with a talent for all the vernaculars. Wild juxtapositions inhabit BIGYUKI’s performances: heavy beats laced with classical flourishes; techy low-end bleeps expressed through a heart-shaped sieve. BIGYUKI is known for his blends of jazz, soul, hip-hop and electronica to create a sound that’s wholly his own.
Best known for composing three cuts on A Tribe Called Quest’s most recent album and recently found on tour with Kamasi Washington, Masayuki is knee-deep in both the jazz and hip-hop vanguard as a highly sought-after session player. As a composer and bandleader, he uncorks an infectious and beautifully weird palette of music on his audience. If you saw him perform at Barbès in the Woods this Summer, well, then you know already.
“I made my name as a session player in New York, where I was known for keeping my feet in every genre that I love,” he explains. “My own music is a collage, but it definitely has a groove. I want my music to stimulate your mind and move your lower body.”
This New England tour marks the release of his latest album on Verve, “Neon Chapter.” His performance at Next Stage will begin with a solo set on grand piano, followed by a trio set with Randy Runyon on guitar and Tim “Smithsoneon” Smith on drums.
About Masayuki Hirano (BIGYUKI)
Born in Kobe, Japan in 1981, BIGYUKI grew up thinking of his mother’s piano as a “big
wooden toy.” He was classically trained as a pianist from a young age, performing publicly and winning national awards, but what he really remembers from that time is his first intoxicating taste of how it feels to create music out of silence. After turning 18, BIGYUKI left Japan to take up a scholarship at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It would be an education in more ways than one. At the same time he was immersing himself in jazz piano and learning gospel organ, BIGYUKI was also inspired by his fellow students and their dedication to their craft.
The musical education BIGYUKI received in Boston extended well beyond the classroom. One early break came at a late night jam session where acclaimed drummer Daru Jones was so impressed by his ability on the keys that he invited BIGYUKI to join the band he was putting together for Talib Kweli. A string of successful live shows and jam sessions meant BIGYUKI’s reputation as a session musician was growing, while at the same time he was starting to hone an individual sound he could call his own. In October 2015 he put out his debut solo EP, the eclectic and experimental ‘Greek Fire’. “
In 2016 he spent two months as a member of Jon Batiste’s house band on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ and played on J. Cole’s album ‘4 Your Eyez Only’. That same year he also played on and wrote for A Tribe Called Quest’s final record ‘We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service’.
In November 2017 he released his debut album ‘Reaching For Chiron’, a rich and varied collection of music that connects the dots between experimental jazz, soulful funk and deep hip-hop beats. “ The remarkable album features guest vocals from singers including Bilal and Abbey Smith, who also appeared on the A Tribe Called Quest record, and is named for the wisest centaur in Greek mythology.
BIGYUKI’s ability to absorb and reflect what’s going on in the world through his music is
particularly evident on his EP ‘2099’, which features a guest spot from Talib Kweli and
was released at the very end of 2020. Having toured with Kamasi Washington’s band in 2019 and played in Lauryn Hill’s band at the Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring-Summer 2021 show, BIGYUKI is excited to get back to performing live regularly.
This performance is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of Oak Meadow.