"She has an instantly recognizable style, featuring a dense flurry of notes and chords that recalls Art Tatum - who, not surprisingly, is one of her idols.” - Billboard “Artists to Watch”
Japanese keyboard sensation Hiromi Uehara is a recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, but there’s already a great deal that she could teach those in the music world whose ears and minds remain open. Spiral offers a glimpse into the highly creative inner world of a gifted young pianist / composer whose roots are in jazz but whose potential is unlimited. Mentored by giants like Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal and Chick Corea, Hiromi turns tradition on its head and plunges into a universe of new ideas where others of her generation have barely scratched the surface.
Spiral, is the highly anticipated follow-up to Brain, Hiromi’s 2004 album, which received outstanding reviews from the jazz press and was supported by extensive touring on three continents.
Committed to making her music evolve, Hiromi offers eight original, category-bashing compositions in a trio format that fuses elements of jazz, pop, classical and avant-garde into a deceptively intense listening experience. “With this album, I have a really strong vision which I call ‘three-piece orchestral music,’” Hiromi says. “Exploring what I could do with the trio, I decided to focus on this setting.”
Self-assured beyond her years, Spiral is another brilliant showcase for the pianist’s imaginative compositions and thunderous playing. Produced by Hiromi and Michael Bishop, this third Telarc release was recorded and mixed at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, in May and June 2005. The album includes fellow Berklee-bred musicians Tony Grey on bass and Martin Valihora on drums.
Hiromi presents her new and personal musical language on the opening track, “Spiral,” alternating between improvisation and carefully crafted modern jazz. The album’s centerpiece, “Music for Three-Piece Orchestra,” goes beyond expectations, featuring a suite of four tracks -“Open Door / Tuning / Prologue,” “Déjà vu,” “Reverse,” and “Edge”- that spotlight Hiromi’s formidable technique and impressive compositional skills.
A painting provided an inspirational starting point for “Old Castle, by the river, in the middle of a forest,” while “Love and Laughter” is dedicated to Ahmad Jamal. Channeling Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan (two huge influences), Hiromi unleashes her nearly demonic energy on the bonus track, “Return of Kung-Fu World Champion.”
Although the piano prodigy has a growing reputation in the United States, Hiromi is already a star in her native Japan. Her 2003 Telarc debut, Another Mind - produced by Ahmad Jamal - shipped gold in Japan (100, 000 units) and won the Recording Industry Association of Japan’s (RIAJ) “Jazz Album of the Year” Award. Her 2004 release, Brain, received Swing Journal’s “New Star Award,” Jazz Life’s “Gold Album,” HMV Japan’s “Best Japanese Jazz Album,” the Surround 2004 Horizon Award and the Japan Music Pen Club’s “Japanese Artist Award.” (The JMPC is a classical / jazz journalists club.) In 2004, Hiromi was featured on the covers of Jazziz, Billboard and Goldmine. More recently, Brain won “Album of the Year” in Swing Journal’s 2005 Readers Poll.
Born in Shizuoka, Japan, in 1979, Hiromi discovered jazz when she took up the piano at age six. Within a year, she was a student of the Yamaha School of Music, whose progressive approach to musical training allowed the young student to tap into her emotions as well as mastering the technical aspects of writing and performing. At age 14, she went to Czechoslovakia and played with the Czech Philharmonic. When she was 17, Chick Corea invited her to perform with him. Hiromi came to the United States in 1999 and graduated from Berklee in 2004.
The release of Spiral puts Hiromi on a trajectory that continues to circle the entire jazz landscape and takes music to a higher place. (concordmusicgroup. com)
Old Castle, By The River, In The Middle Of A Forest