Hiromi – Live in Concert (2008)

by | May 4, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Hiromi – Live in Concert (2008)

Performers: Hiromi Uehara piano; Tony Grey, bass guitar; Martin Valihora, drums
Program: Spiral, If…, Old Castle by the River in the Middle of a Forest, Open Door-Tuning-Prologue, DeJa Vu, Reverse, Edge, Love and Laughter, Dancando No Paraiso
Studio: Yamaha Music/Telarc Records DVD73698
Video: 4:3 picture-framed
Audio: PCM Stereo
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: *****

Like many recent jazz videos, this one was filmed in Tokyo. A second DVD is also being simultaneously released, with Hiromi’s SonicBloom fusion group, but this one is a piano trio setting, recorded at Shinagawa Stellar Ball in Tokyo in December of 2005.  Don’t assume this one is the typical piano trio though. It’s amazingly dynamic and exciting – the young Japanese jazz virtuoso puts on a highly physical performance at the keyboard – rising up from the piano bench a la Jarrett, but also sometimes even kicking up one leg or the other behind her, showing off her red sneakers.

The tunes are evidently mostly originals by Hiromi except for the final Brazilian number. Four of them constitute a suite with the overall title “Music for Three-Piece-Orchestra.”  That’s appropriate, because both her bass guitarist and drummer are engaged at fever pitch with her keyboard work, and the final result has more impact than the typical piano trio. When you add Hiromi’s facial expressions and the interchanges between the three performers there’s quite a bit going on here visually.  She shows such joy in performing it transforms the whole experience into something rather special, and it doesn’t seem to be a bit rehearsed for effect. The quiet ballad “Old Castle” is almost like a Japanese jazz  version of a Debussy prelude, and the only really quiet item in the program. “Edge” is very edgy, with Hiromi using Cecil Taylor-style elbows and fits on the keyboard.  Her exchanges of delicate little Count Basiesque statements with her drummer’s rhythmic responses are a delight of “Love and Laughter.” Her closing original “Dancando No Paraiso” pulls out all the stops with keyboard pyrotechnics, Hiromi’s little fingers moving at lightning speed and down the keyboard.

The visuals are excellent, and never mind just the PCM Stereo tracks if you’re a surround sound fan – they decode extremely well with ProLogic IIx.

 – John Henry

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