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Hiromi: Time Control

Woodrow Wilkins By

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Hiromi Uehara won't be pigeonholed. "I really don't have barriers to any kind of music, she says, adding that her tastes include heavy metal, classical music and "anything else. That might explain why her music can't be defined by genre. Of course, there are elements of jazz, but this Japanese-born keyboardist/pianist easily blends rock rhythms, classical melodies and other musical styles into her compositions.

At 26, Hiromi has already accomplished much in her career. When she was just 17, she had the opportunity to perform with Chick Corea during a Tokyo concert. Another Mind, her 2003 Telarc debut, sold 100,000 units and was named Jazz Album of the Year by the Recording Industry of Japan; and Brain (Telarc, 2004) won the Horizon Award at the 2004 Surround Music Awards, Swing Journal's Star Award and Jazz Life's Gold Album, among others. She's won numerous other honors as well, including Best Jazz Act at the 2006 Boston Music Awards.

For her fourth album, Time Control, Hiromi addresses concerns she has about jet lag, the length of days and other time-related topics. The efforts of her Sonicbloom trio, which includes bassist Tony Grey and drummer Martin Valihora alongside special guest David "Fuze Fiuczynski on fretted and fretless guitars, result in a combination of merging styles on this collection of nine Hiromi originals.

The opening track, "Time Difference, is an orchestral expression of jet lag. At times, the musicians appear to be performing a different song. Though each is in his or her own zone, they mesh well. Fiuczynski's guitar gives this track some extra punch, especially when he and Hiromi engage in call-and-response around the midpoint. "Time Travel, in which Hiromi explores the possibilities of letting the mind wander into another era, is like a musical collision: Chick Corea Elektric Band meets Heart. In short, this song rocks and jams. While Hiromi and Fiuczynski share the lead for most of the song, Grey and Valihora also provide a strong presence, not unlike the Elektric Band's John Patitucci and Dave Weckl.

At times melodic, at other times quirky, Hiromi's music has an edge to it that's not for the squeamish. But if you appreciate technique over catchiness, complexity over simplicity, this might be the ticket. As with her earlier releases, Time Control presents Hiromi's fearlessness. Except for the closing track, "Time's Up, each song clocks in at more than six minutes, giving Hiromi and her sidemen plenty of time to stretch out. This is music as it should be—the freedom to explore without cookie-cutter restrictions.

Track Listing: Time Difference; Time Out; Time Travel; Deep In The Night; Real Clock Vs. Body Clock = Jet Lag; Time And Space; Time Control, or Controlled By Time, Time Flies, Time's Up.

Personnel: Hiromi: piano; David Fiuczynski: guitar; Tony Grey: bass instrument; Martin Valihora: drums.

Title: Time Control | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Telarc Records

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