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Senri Oe

Senri Oe

During the '80s and '90s, Senri Oe was heating up stages as a top-selling pop star in Japan.

These days, music fans will find him entertaining people in the jazz piano realm. Senri Oe brings his 'Boys and Girls' Concert Tour to Piano Forte in Chicago on Nov. 11.

"I'll be doing my jazz tunes and pop tunes from the '80s and '90s," he said, adding that the pop tunes he'll perform will be jazz piano reinterpretations of his '80s and '90s songs.

Senri's latest album, which debuted in August, is titled "Boys and Girls," and features reinterpretations of his Japanese pop tunes as well as jazz piano songs. "I also wrote two completely new songs for the album," he said.

Senri said his tour is taking him to various places in the United States and he's already brought the new show to California, Detroit, Boston, New York and other places. The pianist said he's also played the St. Paul, Minnesota airport, which was a unique setting.

"There was a huge grand piano in the middle of a high traffic area. People were asking 'What's going on here,? he said, with a laugh.

Though he found great success as a pop star, the musician, who now resides in New York, said he's long been a fan of jazz. But his travels down the jazz musical album path have actually been pretty recent. His first jazz album, titled "Boys Mature Slow," was released in 2012. The latest album is his fifth in the jazz arena.

"I've listened to jazz music for a long time," Senri said, adding he's a big fan of "old school" classics. A favorite, he said, is Antonio Carlos Jobim. On the flip side, the pianist said he actually grew up listening to the music of Billy Joel, the Carpenters and the Captain and Tennille.

As a musician, his switch from pop to jazz came a bit later.

"When I was 47, I started the second chapter of my life," Senri said. "I wanted to study jazz and entered a music conservatory." Senri studied at The School of Jazz at The New School in New York.

Senri said after the death of good friends and family through the years, he felt that he should change course and do what he really wanted in life. His pursuit of a jazz career, he said, is something that brings him great joy.

Feeling that "life can be limited" and short, Senri said it was important for him to delve into jazz for the second phase of his life.

Senri said when he composes now, he uses his "pop (influences) to compose in a jazz way." The pianist said, living in New York, he gets inspiration from day to day things and events. "I really get daily inspiration from street sounds and people," he said.

In addition to his own recordings and concerts, Senri has also produced and arranged for Japanese singer Mika Shinno and Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer.

FYI: Senri Oe will perform at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at Piano Forte, 1335 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Tickets range from $15 to $25. Visit pianofortechicago.com.

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.