The Blue Note

28 January 2006

NY Jazz Report's Thad Kawecki and Will Wolf stopped by the Blue Note on Thursday 19.January to catch the innovative pianist/composer Hiromi. Her new CD on Telarc is entitled "Spiral."

Tony Grey
Martin Valihora

Piano, Synthesizer

This Japanese wonder is a bundle of unbridled energy, a musical dynamo, and her explosive performance this January night at the Blue Note helped to rev up the engines of every one in the audience. Her unique brand of music, a lively blend of rock, jazz, electronic, classical, and avant-garde shifted her listeners into high gear and took them on a daring ride. Hiromi is an inventive captain, and what she created on this special excursion was pure joy.

The set opened with a Neo-Fusion number featuring blistering synth lines, virtuosic Jaco-esque electric bass, and high energy aggressive drumming. Hiromi alternated between acoustic piano and synth often playing rapid percussive figures with a fierce intensity. The overall effect was startling.

And exhilarating. Her music makes you feel good, and whether she's pounding the piano with her elbows and her fists, playing riffs a la Oscar Peterson, or conjuring up a classical piano recital, she always manages to make you smile. Her concept, approach, and execution all seem slighty tinged with a keen sense of irony.

The performance, as usual, was comprised entirely of Hiromi originals, the centerpiece of which was her "MUSIC FOR THREE-PIECE-ORCHESTRA." This expansive four part work was a tightly arranged journey into her personal take on jazz modernism, brimming with odd meters and shifting time. Hiromi has a penchant for motor rhythms, and this piece makes use of them, reminding us that the piano is, afterall, a percussion instrument. But she's also adept at lyrical improv, and frequently burst into long Jarrett-like cascades of melody.

"MUSIC FOR THREE-PIECE-ORCHESTRA" is an ambitious composition that clearly demonstrates Hiromi's imaginative drive and focus on successfully bringing together all the varied elements of her repertoire. It can't be an easy task, harnessing so much energy and aiming it in all the right directions. On this night, and with this piece, she left no doubt that she has a unique message to deliver. One that is likely to make an important impact on the shape of jazz to come.

HIROMI Website

email Thad Kawecki
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