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Hiromi: Spiral

Jim Santella By

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Hiromi: Spiral In a set of her own compositions, pianist Hiromi Uehara swings jazz's modern mainstream with a delightful mix of dramatic themes. Her trio drives with intensity one moment and relaxes quietly the next. Through its improvisational character, the trio melds jazz with rock and goes far beyond. A blues thread runs through nearly every piece, and Hiromi shows her deep love for the feelings that she effortlessly evokes. Her compositions run suite-like, with shifting moods and dynamic changes in emphasis.

The pianist works hard to express her ideas. Emotion plays a large part in each selection. While she confesses mentorship with Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, and Chick Corea, Uehara shares much of her eclectic spirit with Dave Brubeck. Her piano cascades drive with simple elegance, and she resolves every phrase with a dynamic spirit. She enthralls her audience with powerful rhythmic strides that challenge the intellect. Meters change, moods shift, and her driving force keeps on going. Her improvised romps come alive with foot-tapping and head-bobbing energy that keeps the listener buoyed from start to finish.

Uehara uses the grand piano for nearly all of her work. "Return of Kung-Fu World Champion," however, incorporates a widely different tactic. Here, she applies leading-edge electronic effects to her performance with astonishing results. Keyboard and piano combine for an energetic display that compares to a martial arts competition. This thrilling piece allows her to balance her program: acoustic meets electronic. The result is a powerful statement that envelops new and exciting forces into her mainstream jazz program.

Live footage of "Kung-Fu World Champion" is provided with Spiral on an included DVD. Running approximately seven minutes, the concert performance reveals three highly creative artists who improvise into new jazz territory with a free spirit. I believe the colloquial term to describe this event is awesome.


Track Listing: Spiral; Music for Three-Piece-Orchestra: (Open Door--Tuning--Prologue; Dj Vu; Reverse); Edge; Old Castle, by the River, in the Middle of a Forest; Love and Laughter; Return of Kung-Fu World Champion.

Personnel: Hiromi Uehara: piano, keyboard; Tony Gray: bass; Martin Vailhora: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Telarc Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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