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A Pianist Whose Jazz and Classical Playing is Mind-Boggling

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As an avid concert goer I have had the joy of hearing many of the world' great pianists, and many who are not quite at that level. Rarely do I come across one of whom I have never heard. But one who just recently came to my attention and whose pianism I find riveting is this young man who prefers to be called Cateen instead of his real name, Hayato Sumino. He's 26, has been playing the instrument since he was three and never had any formal training apart from lessons from his mother. Never went to a Conservatory or Music Academy, although he does now study classical music and jazz with some notable teachers.

In Japan he is best known as a jazz pianist. Go to one of the world's best-known jazz bars, Blue Note Tokyo, and the chances are good that he will turn up and play for a while. The customers will go wild and won't let him go! To get an idea of his amazing technique, listen to this video in which he plays Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" at 10 levels of difficulty.

Almost unknown outside his native Japan other than to his huge number of youtube followers, Cateen came to world attention in September when he won a place in what is now arguably the world's greatest Piano Competition, the Chopin Competition in Warsaw held every 5 years. He sailed through three rounds but just missed out on a place in the final 8. As an example of his classical work, listen to this short fiendishly difficult Etude Opus 10 No. 1 by Chopin. It's not recorded in a formal concert hall and the piano is fractionally out of tune. But I think this young man is incredible and should be much better known. I am certain he can attract hoardes of youngsters to listen to classical and other musical genres.


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