By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 6.3.10
Buy CD: Place to Be
This is Japanese pianist Hiromi's sixth Telarc album under her own name; she also was featured in a release with the Stanley Clarke Trio, Jazz in the Garden.
She was part of a small group on the earlier albums, and this is her first solo recording.
I was dazzled by her technique on 2007's Time Control, but wasn't sure that she'd become a true jazz artist. But she definitely entered the jazz arena with 2008's Beyond Standard, which contained covers of jazz standards, allowing favorable comparison to other pianists.
As for 2009's Jazz in the Garden, she couldn't help but swing with Clarke's group.
As a soloist here, though, Hiromi is performing her own compositions, and the jazz “feel” has almost disappeared. Her technique and execution are exemplary, particularly in her up-tempo tunes, but the neat, exciting, swinging chops that she demonstrated previously are missing in action.
Based on this album, Hiromi is more of a concert artist, in the style of George Winston, than a swinger like Oscar Peterson.
Still, one must stand in awe of her keyboard mastery.