Shiori Enomoto (榎本栞, Enomoto Shiori), better known under her stage name Shiori, is a 28-year-old jazz singer and songwriter from Osaka, Japan, who achieved national fame after releasing her debut album "10 Postcards From My Holiday" with her first band, To A Lovely Tune. Perhaps because they had, in the years prior, primarily done recurring live performances at various luxury hotels spread across Asia, their studio recording was praised as rich in polish and smoothness. With her new band, Shiori has put out singles featuring well-known jazz standards plus a couple of her own songs as B-sides.

Solo, she has performed at a selection of jazz festivals in Europe, among those some major gigs in England as well as France. Although she grew up in Osaka, she has lived most of her adult life in Tokyo, before staying more briefly in first London, then Paris. Currently, she resides in Luxembourg, where she sings lead vocals in the internationally-assembled jazz band, Tramway Tracks United, a band consisting of LGBT-women only. Although she has yet to officially come out, many see her affiliation with the band as a silent confirmation of rumours which have been buzzing, ever since her break with To A Lovely Tune.

(

Paris, 2009.

If she hadn’t strayed so endlessly far from home, she thought and introduced the final song of the night with a small, glued-on smile and a throw of her head, she’d naturally never have seen her name written in gold letters beneath the great Edith Piaf’s on the posters that Yvette had spread out over all of the 9th arrondissement to announce their weekly events. She’d never have sung a single song in French, she’d never have known how you can long so horribly for the sound of your native language and she’d never have learned to hate her own hodgepodge of accent and difficulty when she sang Milord or Padam Padam. Shiori’s French was still, after almost two years in the city of light and love, a mostly moderate affair. She could sing the words and she might even understand the meaning of each one, but the feeling was gone - and sound without feeling was, when all came down to it, just sound. Her voice wasn’t grander or more unique than that.

At L’Ombre de Palais, however, they regularly failed to care about her accent or her artistic reservations. The club which had become the golden age band’s usual venue was a pseudo-authentic hotpot, they harvested from the popularity of the location and most of the guests were tourists, as to be expected, who themselves spoke a pronounced tourist-French, if they spoke the language at all. Shiori had taught herself to care for their pretentious manner, but she sometimes did miss the guys from London and the UK’s darker grit. Not that she ever regretted her move, it had been time.

The final number of the evening was an extended version of La Foule which Shiori herself had worked on, for months actually, woven fragments of her own Japanese translation into the original lyrics and put their trumpeter to work with a riff or two, depending on how the audience responded. It was one of the few songs in their repertoire that she felt 100 percent comfortable singing, that she knew she could squeeze every single drop out of and at the same time, it had proven surprisingly popular. Tonight was no exception, it received the biggest applause of the evening. Maybe people simply clapped, because the show was finally over, she was past the point of preventing herself from thinking in a fortunately brief, but still cold moment, before the spotlight flickered back in her face and she almost felt too hot in her little, black dress.

Usually the bar was open another couple of hours after the end of their concerts, so Shiori descended the round stage, left the cleaning-up for the others with a vague promise of returning in a moment and sat down at the first, free barstool she could find. Ordered a coke on the rocks.

“I liked you better in London,” a woman’s voice sounded behind her and the words were in English, British English. The voice was slightly hoarse and slightly dark, reminded her of marzipan coated in chocolate, offhand. She didn’t even have time to turn around, before the stranger slid into the seat next to her, as if the stool were a throne. She wedged her needle sharp stiletto into place against the foot rest’s metal. Shiori observed her curiously. She couldn't recall ever having seen her before and that hair… Oh, it was beautiful, that hair she wouldn’t forget so easily. Orange-golden, the exact same color as the sunset, just as shiny, just as nuanced.

“I think I might have liked me better in London, too,” she laughed in reply, likewise in English. Her stomach fluttered and she wasn’t sure it was a welcome sensation. Either it was too old or she herself was. Too old. Now. A bit uneasily, she pushed forward in her seat and disturbed the ice cubes in her glass with her straw.

“My name is Michelle Adkins,” the woman introduced herself finally and smiled. She had narrow lips, but completely white teeth. A true Colgate smile. “I play the piano and might be on the hunt for vocals just like yours, Shiori Enomoto.”

She pronounced Shiori’s family name in a wonderfully cute manner, where the E almost disappeared, sounding instead like a deep, elongated I-sound. Shiori couldn’t help smiling, she’d never in this very special way been headhunted before. So focused. So direct. With Yvette’s band, she was still in a sort of test period. She’d been so for a year already and the result never seemed to change, it felt. They played, she sang, but she remained a foreign element. In reality, she probably missed the feeling of being part of something. Of someone.

“Shiori, are you coming,” someone yelled from up on the stage and Shiori sighed. Searched through her purse in the hunt for a pen, while Michelle tore a piece of paper out of her calendar to scribble her number down on and as such, they exchanged their info in an efficient silence.

“You’ll hear from me,” Michelle promised and leaned in to kiss her airily by each cheek in a truly French fashion. Her perfume clung to Shiori’s hair in the waves of their brief intimacy, held a heavy and sharp scent. Their intimacy, their… Quickly, she stopped herself and instead stood up, even when Michelle remained seated next to the sad remains of Shiori’s coke, although Shiori straightened up to her fullest height, Michelle was almost taller than her. Almost.

“I’d appreciate that,” she answered and managed just barely to smile, just as she managed just barely to avoid stumbling, when she turned away and walked back towards the stage and her work, however much of a foreign worker she really was, when all came down to it.

And as such, they met each other both as strangers and as two familiar with each other, did Michelle and Shiori, because Shiori would no doubt have remembered Michelle’s red hair wherever she went afterwards, had she noticed her back in good old London Town - who knew, maybe she’d never have left for Paris in the first place, had she met Michelle back then. Later, on her way home along Boulevard des Capucines, it was Michelle’s hair she remembered most clearly, as well as her marzipan-darkened voice and her words. Her words… Maybe she was on the hunt for someone exactly like Shiori, she’d said. Maybe she was on the hunt. Maybe Shiori was once more desired and in demand. Wouldn’t it be for the first time in a decade?

Time was up. Maybe she could be daring. Again.

●●●○○ LuxPhone19:21
Vocals, Tramway Tracks United, Luxembourg. Song is its own language, perhaps the only one I speak fluently.

A point of #intersection.

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Eternal #muse and #inspiration #billieholiday.

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Home is wherever the #sakura are blossoming.

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Self-portrait I, a #selfie. Tongue in cheek.

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No day is ever complete without #music and #tea.

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Some daily #truthfulness.

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Self-portrait II, a #selfie. Celebrated.

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There's a story to the #piano. Mine.

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Recollections of another time #lounge #atmosphere #hotel.

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Us, #you and me.

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Self-portrait III, a #selfie. Freedom.

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Desperate #homesickness.

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#heroines of my youth.

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My #heart in a box.

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#paris #impressions.

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Self-portrait IV, a #selfie. Style.

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#paris #thirdhome.

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Inspired by a #muse #billieholiday.

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// unsaid

May. 21st, 2017 11:42 pm
travlinlight: (// no. 13)

“I didn’t know that Luxembourg had established itself as a great jazz nation,” Mother said and sent a both piercing, yet already knowing look in Shiori’s direction. Next to her, Father took another picture of the Grand Ducal Palace through his lens and with his heavy, half-professional and thoroughly expensive camera hanging in a strap around his neck. In every possible way he looked like the classic, Japanese tourist as the Europeans thought they knew them best. He showed no interest in their conversation.

“It hasn’t,” Shiori answered, because there was no reason to lie or come up with even just the quarter of a truth around her mother.

Meanwhile, Father had spotted the chocolate café on the other side of the square and turned towards it enthusiastically in order to snap another row of photos that he’d be able to proudly present to his friends over their after-work beers back home. My daughter performs in Luxembourg, this is Luxembourg City, it’s very old and everybody there has such a sense of style, it’s the perfect place for her.

She could almost hear him. Almost. Such a long time had passed now.

“What are you really doing here, Shiori?”

Mother never sounded angry or frustrated or irritated, even when it was obvious that she’d have to be somewhere on that emotional spectrum. Shiori bit her lip, tried not to think of Michelle who had lounged up her back that same morning with her big, soft breasts pressing against her shoulder blades, because Shiori was petite and Michelle was grander than life itself. Greater than any inspiration, greater than any muse Shiori had ever had before.

“There’s a market here, for a niche,” she replied. Instead. Spoke directly to Mother’s business sense, besides - it wasn’t exactly a lie.

The most important thing was naturally that she’d never, ever lied to her parents. No matter how angry Michelle got, because Shiori wouldn’t let her meet them now when they were finally visiting. Shiori’s new harbour, her new home, another one in the lineup. She had never told them anything untrue.

“As my talented daughter would know, of course,” Mother commented and that was the end of the discussion. Only then did Father return, turning away from the old fronts, leaving the camera to hang down his chest as he moved over to slip an arm around Shiori’s shoulders, squeezed her lightly. My big girl, she could almost hear him say. Almost.

As such, so many things remained unsaid.

// playlist

May. 21st, 2017 08:29 pm
travlinlight: (// no. 1)

East of the Sun
- Billie Holiday

Good Morning Heartache
- Akiko

You Yes You
- Carte Blanche

- Kaori Kobayashi

- Katie Melua

Galaxy's Skirt
- Emi Meyer

- Avalon Jazz Band

Sous le Ciel de Paris
- Jolie Môme

La Foule
- Edith Piaf

It Don't Mean a Thing
- Karen Aoki

- The Beatles

That's Life
- Frank Sinatra

Trav'lin' Light
- Billie Holiday


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