Hiromi Solo – Live at Blue Note, NYC (2011)
Studio: Yamaha/Telarc TEL-32866-09 [3/15/11]
Video: 16:9 color
Audio: DD 5.1
Extras: Featurette on Hiromi’s travels
Length: 98 minutes, Extras: 24 minutes
Any jazz fan who wants to know where the cutting edge of jazz piano stands today has to view this amazing performance of Hiromi Uehara playing at New York’s famed Blue Note. She proves to be even more of a wild virtuoso than in her several ensemble CDs and SACDs. She has done two previous DVDs. Sonicbloom is the name of her ensemble, which now often includes guitarist David Fiuczynski. Her keyboard work is boundlessly energetic and blends jazz with prog rock, classical and fusion in her improvisations and compositions. She also includes various electronic keyboards in her work in addition to her Yamaha concert grand piano.
Hiromi began her studies in the classical world and played with the Czech Philahrmonic at age 14. She was befriended by both Chick Corea and Abhmad Jamal, and before graduating from the Berklee School of Music in Boston she had a contract with Telarc Records. Her duet double-CD with Chick Corea is a winner. She appears at many jazz festivals around the world, and the short featurette in the DVD shows Hiromi at various solo concerts in her old stomping ground, Boston, as well as New York City and Tibilsi, Georgia.
All 11 tracks here feature Hiromi’s own compositions, and most of them blaze thru a variety of piano jazz styles, including some she seems to have originated herself. Her variations on Pachelbel’s Canon must be heard to be believed. Towards the end of her long program at The Blue Note Hiromi performs a three-movement “Viva! Vegas” suite, and she concludes with a touching verbal introduction to her encore, a piece titled “Place to Be.” She can range from a spare single-note Count Basie style to a thunderous all-over-the-keyboard approach in just a few seconds. Her wildest harmonic extensions tend to remain connected — however nebulously sometimes – to some sort of tonality. This is not Cecil Taylor-style free jazz.
The video coverage is excellent, with a good angle from one side of the keyboard covered by a stationary camera on her left, covered with dark material to sort of blend into the stage curtain, but looking a bit like some sort of one-eyed alien. The piano pickup is especially extended in both frequency range and dynamics; Michael Bishop was the recording engineer. This video cements the reputation of Hiromi as one of the most electrifying jazz pianists performing today.
1. BQE 10:10
2. Sicilian Blue 9:56
3. Choux à La Créme 8:59
4. Green Tea Farm 11:20
5. Capecod Chips 10:50
6. Old Castle, By the River, In the Middle of a Forest 10:11
7. Pachelbel’s Canon 8:18
8. Show City, Show Girl 5:13
9. Daytime in Las Vegas 3:55
10. The Gambler 8:26
11. Place to Be 7:58
— John Henry