Hiromi Uehara dazzles with Spiral

Hiromi is a great young jazz pianist from Japan. I have been a fan of hers since she released her debut album, Another Mind, back in 2003. That was an impressive debut album especially for such a young jazz pianist that was still in college at the time working on her music degree.  In 2006 she released her third album, Spiral, and it too is a pretty amazing album. I definitely wasn’t doing anything as impressive with my life when I was 27.  The group on this album is a trio with Hiromi on piano, Tony Grey on bass, and Martin Valihora on drums. The album starts off with the very beautiful “Spiral”.  This song starts fairly slow but slowly starts to build up about 2 minutes in into a very beautiful piece and it is a good representation of the music on this album. This song is followed by the four part 28-minute “Music for Three-Piece Orchestra”. The trio plays two more original pieces by Hiromi before the album finishes up with the quirky “Return of the Kung-Fu World Champion” where Hiromi shows off her keyboard skills. Not only does Hiromi shine throughout this album, but so do the two musicians that play with her. Tony Grey and Martin Valihora’s styles nicely complement Hiromi’s style and provide a nice foundation for her to shine upon. Tony Grey has some great melodic bass work on this album and contributes a few great bass solos of his own including one on the final song.  I would say the two main stars of this album are Hiromi and Tony but Martin Valihora also displays his skills and has a drum solo of his own on the fourth and final part of “Music for Three-Piece Orchestra”.  Not only can this trio play great music in the studio they can also play it live as showcased on the DVD Hiromi Live in Concert where most of these songs are performed..

The music on this album displays Hiromi’s love for jazz and classical music and I think the combination of the two genres is why I really like this album. Her other albums are also good, but they can be a little chaotic at times and I prefer to listen to individual songs more so than the entire album due to this.  I think that the classical elements on Spiral really give it structure that allows it to be more accessible to the listener upon first hearing it and it makes the album feel more consistent. I’ve seen Hiromi play multiple times at The Anthology in San Diego and she is always a thrill to watch. She is always full of energy and is always grinning from ear to ear while she plays. She clearly enjoys what she does and she is clearly better at playing the piano than anything I will ever be able to do.  I’m sure Hiromi will continue to amaze me throughout her career as she should have another 40 or so years left to even further master her craft.

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