By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Voice
Readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of pianist/composer Hiromi Uehara. If you look up the definition for prodigy, you might find her picture; she began to play the piano at age 6, was introduced to jazz at 8, performed with the Czech Philharmonic at 14, and played a concert with Chick Corea at a still youthful 17. She’s a Berklee College of Music grad and was signed by Telarc Records while still in school.
Since her professional debut in 2003, Hiromi has been featured on almost a dozen albums or DVDs. Several are in a solo piano setting, but the majority are with a trio; on this, her newest release, she is joined by bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips. All but one of the nine tunes are Hiromi compositions; the exception is her “rearrangement” of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 (Pathétique).
Voice is a reflection of Hiromi’s belief that, in her words, “people’s real voices are expressed in their emotions. It’s not something that you really say. It’s more something that you have in your heart. Maybe it’s something you haven’t said yet. Maybe you’re never going to say it. But it’s your true voice. Instrumental music is very similar.”
Don’t be surprised, then, at the absence of lyrics in these melodies.
This is concert jazz: something you listen to, not dance or swing to. But, thanks to Hiromi, it’s fascinating, mesmerizing and dazzling. Her technique is near perfect, particularly during up-tempo pieces. Her touch is super-controlled; you won’t hear any fluffs.
What you will experience borders on awe; the lady is almost unbelievable.