Hiromi: The Voice Inside
Although Hiromi had always given occasional solo performances, the release of her solo piano recording Place to Be (Telarc, 2010) has been an important development for her: "Since the record, I have more opportunity to play solo concerts, though mainly I tour with my trio." It's not just about increased opportunities to perform, however, as the experience has contributed to making Hiromi a more confident pianist: "Oh, yes, I am. I definitely am. You know, I feel more prepared. I'll do six shows, two sets a night. I'm physically capable of doing six nights of two sets and, yeah, it's definitely given me some kind of confidence." A year later, Hiromi hooked up with two of the giants of fusion, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White, to record what was, ironically, the all-acoustic Jazz in the Garden (Heads Up, 2009). "It was amazing and so beautiful," Hiromi recalls enthusiastically. "We did a tour together at the end of last year. For learning, it was the best school to be in [laughs]."
On a seemingly never-ending upward artistic curve, the devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan in March, 2011 temporarily but immediately redirected Hiromi's focus: "I went back two days after." Although Hiromi states that her home town of Hamamatsu suffered no physical damage, it's clear that the psychological effects of the earthquake and tsunami left no part of Japan untouched: "It was hard for all Japanese people; it was very shocking. People were really depressed, so I just went back and did a lot of TV and radio performances to cheer people up. I also did 18 benefit shows to raise some donations. I just tried to do what I can do."
Hiromi was moved by the world's sympathetic response to the devastation wrought on Japan, but more profoundly moved by the behavior of her own people: "I was very proud of how people reacted to this shocking thing. People who suffered actual physical damage were very respectful towards each other. They were all thinking about others and trying to help each other, and I think that is the core of Japanese people. Musicians always tell me they love going to Japan and they love the culture of hospitality and the kindness, and I think it was really shown when people were without power and without water, and when the supplies came, people just made a long line and stood in line respectfully and quietly and nobody went crazy. A lot of people told me that can only happen in Japan, and this makes us strongly believe in the potential of a quick recovery from this incident."
Once again, Hiromi is focused on developing her music, and her enthusiasm for this new project with Jackson and Phillips is clear: "From the first rehearsal, I just knew it would be great; I really loved it from the very beginning. We had a chemistry together which was very nice, and it was amazing fun. I could see the potential from the beginning." The musical empathy between these three outstanding musicians is evident throughout Voice, and the trio has maybe only begun to tap its potential. "Of course, when you're touring it's developing even more," says Hiromi."
Hiromi understands that by putting herself in new situations, whether solo, in a duo, at the heart of a symphony orchestra or in new collaborations with outstanding musicians, she will continue to grow as a musician. That Jackson has seemingly afforded the pianist new insight into the art of improvisationcombined with her growing confidencesets the nerve endings tingling at the prospect of what adventures may lie ahead for the unique, exhilarating voice that is Hiromi.
Hiromi, Voice (Telarc, 2011) Hiromi, Hiromi Solo Live at Blue Note New York DVD (Telarc, 2011) Hiromi, Place to Be (Telarc, 2010) Stanley Clarke, The Stanley Clarke Band (Heads Up International, 2010) The Stanley Clarke Trio, Jazz in the Garden (Heads Up International, 2009) Hiromi, Hiromi Live in Concert DVD (Telarc, 2009) Hiromi's Sonicbloom, Hiromi's Sonicbloom Live in Concert DVD (Telarc, 2009) Chick Corea & Hiromi, Duet (Concord Records, 2009) Hiromi's Sonicbloom, Beyond Standard (Telarc, 2008) Hiromi's Sonicbloom, Time Control (Telarc, 2007) Hiromi, Spiral (Telarc, 2006) Hiromi, Brain (Telarc, 2004) Hiromi, Another Mind (Telarc, 2003)
All Photos: Courtesy of Hiromi/Telarc