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Hiromi: Spectrum

Mike Jurkovic By

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A beacon for jazz to come, since her adrenaline-pumped debut Another Mind (Telarc, 2003), pianist-composer Hiromi Uehara launches herself into her fourth decade with Spectrum, her second album alone at her Yamaha.

The music, she hopes, celebrates the closing of one decade and the opening of the next and, without pause, it does, brimming with all the capricious three-dimensional imagination and invention that indelibly mark many fine recordings—her first solo Place To Be (Telarc, 2010), Voice (Telarc, 2011), Spark (Telarc, 2016), the latter titles alongside her equally sinewy post-bop avatars, bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips. Stretching far like an autumn morning, "Kaleidoscope" avalanches from brooding insistence to sheer, open wonder, its cyclical ellipsis and horizontal propulsions buoyed by her tireless, melodic athleticism. The classical air that inhabits "Whiteout" feels at first like the falling of the first season's snow until it melts effortlessly into a vaudevillian passage you swear you've heard in a movie somewhere before.

A funky vaudeville follows with "Yellow Wurlitzer Blues" which impulsively sets up the onrush of the title track, "Spectrum." Breaking from a thunder chord to Olympian speed riffing, the music comes at you like a tidal wave. Sensing respite for both herself and her listener, a hushed, impressively intuitive reading of Paul McCartney's "Blackbird" leads to the romping "Mr. C. C." The composition is, in all but the man's physical attendance, Charlie Chaplin as Hiromi's joyful frolics conjure Keystone, tramp, and man of the people.

With a grand wanderlust, "Rhapsody In Various Shades of Blue" not only embodies George Gershwin's defining moment but, after adding several of her own moments, she gently and generously ushers in Pete Townshend's "Behind Blue Eyes" and—now get this—John Coltrane's "Blue Train," resulting in a truly engulfing and beguiling listen. As is all of Spectrum.

Track Listing: Kaleidoscope; Whiteout; Yellow Wurlitzer Blues; Spectrum; Mr. C. C.; Once In a Blue Moon; Rhapsody in Various Shades of Blue; Sepia Effect.

Personnel: Hiromi: piano.

Title: Spectrum | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Telarc Records

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