257

Hiromi's Sonicbloom: Beyond Standards

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Hiromi's Sonicbloom: Beyond Standards If music reviews are starting to have an air of familiarity about them, it's because the music calls for it. So many new releases are comprised mostly—if not entirely—of cover songs, summarizing the sound can be as effortless as striking the on/off switch. Fortunately, some artists aren't content to merely record their version of something old. Hiromi's Sonicbloom shakes it up, flips it over and turns out something that looks and smells new, in Beyond Standards.

Japanese-born keyboardist/pianist Hiromi Uehara leads the ensemble, which also includes Tony Grey on bass, Martin Valihora on drums and David Fiuczynski on guitars. The group has received rave reviews in such publications as Down Beat, JazzTimes, Keyboard magazines, and The New York Times. Uehara herself has earned several major awards, including Jazz Album of the Year by the Recording Industry Association of Japan for her debut, Another Mind (2003). Subsequent Telarc releases Brain (2005), Spiral (2006) and Time Control (2007) have also garnered honors and helped increase her popularity. The last two of the series featured Sonicbloom.

After an introduction that borrows from Uehara's song, "Time Control," the quartet begins an ethereal take on the Oscar Hammerstein/Sigmund Romberg title, "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise." The song takes on an other-world beauty, aided largely by Uehara's piano and keyboard. Grey's electric bass, underscored lightly by piano, guitar and drums, adds to this trekking-through-space feel. Fiuczynski contributes a guitar solo.

Claude Debussy's "Clair De Lune" is fresh and invigorating. Sonicbloom turns this classical piece into a modern jazz tune. Valihora is crisp on the drums and cymbals. Uehara is part Chick Corea, part Bob James on the piano. Fiuczynski and Grey lick their chops as well. The closing sequence on this number marks one of the album's high point, as all four musicians express freedom while continuing to sound like a unit.

The dynamic bass line helps set the tone for an unusual take on Juan Tizol's "Caravan," which was popularized by Duke Ellington. Fiuczynski has the lead for most of the song, injecting some Mike Stern-like tones. The group pumps lots of energy into the song, especially when Uehara takes the keys through a rapid-fire solo, followed by Valihora's all-out drum solo.

Some of the covers on Beyond Standards aren't typical at all. One is a Japanese pop song, "Ue Wo Muite Aruko," and the other is "XYG," a variation of Uehara's "XYZ," a track from Another Mind. And while the melodies of some of the American Songbook standards are familiar, Hiromi's Sonicbloom takes these tunes into places they've never been before. Uehara and her ensemble don't play it safe.

Beyond Standards lives up to its name.

Track Listing: Intro: Softly as in a Morning Sunrise; Softly as in a Morning Sunrise; Clair De Lune; Caravan; Ue Wo Muite Aruko; My Favorite Things; Led Boots; XYG; I've Got Rhythm.

Personnel: Hiromi Uehara: piano, keyboards; Tony Grey: bass; Martin Valihora: drums; David "Fuze" Fiuczynski: guitars.

Title: Beyond Standards | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Telarc Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Instrumental" CD/LP/Track Review Instrumental
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Karoujite" CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Just Left of Center" CD/LP/Track Review Just Left of Center
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Reflections" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "Journey To The Mountain Of Forever" CD/LP/Track Review Journey To The Mountain Of Forever
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987" CD/LP/Track Review Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987
by John Kelman
Published: August 29, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.