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Hiromi Uehara - Spectrum CD (album) cover


Hiromi Uehara


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.02 | 29 ratings

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4 stars Hiromi Uehara is a jazz pianist with a unique and eclectic style that makes her fit comfortably in the progressive genre. She has made several album with bands through her career, but in 2009, on her album "A Place to Be", she made an album with piano only. Since then, she has been performing and releasing albums with her project called "The Trio Project". In September of 2019, she released her 5th solo album, 10 years after "A Place to Be", and once again, it is an album consisting of only Uehara on piano, this time called "Spectrum". The album was released only in Japan until Octboer 2019, when she released it internationally.

"Spectrum"s track titles all have to do with color. Hiromi's piano teacher told her to think of the music she plays as shades of color, and this is what she wanted to portray on this album. Hiromi also says that playing a totally solo piano album exposes the artist much more because there is nothing else there to cover up any weaknesses or mistakes. It also means that the artist has to act as the other instruments such as bass, percussion, guitar and such. The album consists of 9 solo tracks and has a total run time of over 73 minutes.

The album starts with "Kaleidoscope" which instantly proves that Hiromi is unique and has an amazing style that will make you think you are listening to more than just a piano. If this is your first time hearing her, you will notice how she can change her touch on the keys to make it almost sound like another instrument, and she adjusts her touch and style so seamlessly and smoothly. This is unlike any solo piano album because of her variety of delivery that makes it sound so layered like an entire small group of instruments playing along with her. Not only that, but she is technically amazing with her fast notes, her ability to utilize dynamics, and her amazing phrasing where she can play smoothly in one hand and use the other hand to play staccato and pizzicato and whatever else she does. It's all quite amazing. This track features several very fast passages that utilize the entire range of the keyboard. Hopefully, this amazing delivery translates to non-keyboard players, but I know, being a keyboardist pretty much my entire life, that Hiromi is quite amazing in both technicality and dynamics

"Whiteout" is a much lighter piece that flows around like light flying snow falling through the air. It is slightly more traditional sounding, but Hiromi's touch is so light that the piano again becomes it's own orchestra. As the track continues, it becomes more rhapsodic and dynamic, but the flair is not necessarily classical as much as it is jazz, similar to Gershwin's style, but also, at times, inspired by the Moonlight Sonata's famous motif. "Yellow Wurlitzer Blues" has a bright sound based on a boogie/blues/ragtime style. It's fun and playful, upbeat and jazzy. "Spectrum" is more along the lines of a fusion style, thick and complex, very much like a Keith Emerson style, but again, she adds her own unique manner to it, doing things to the keys that produce some different sounds and textures that you don't normally hear from a piano. Notes fly from her fingers faster than the mind can move.

"Blackbird" again goes for a lighter sound, soft and flowing. "Mr. C.C." is a piece based on her experience of improvising over a Charlie Chaplin silent movie. It moves to a fast flowing old-time jazz style, a bit comedic and playful, strongly based on a ragtime style with a slow, dramatic finish. "Once in a Blue Moon" returns to the jazz/blues style and a more improvised feeling, speed is moderate, but the notes still fly around quickly and she often returns to the main theme of the track.

The centerpiece of the album is the 22 minute track "Rhapsody in Various Shades of Blue" which is a medley of famous themes brought together in one piece. It starts with her take on "Rhapsody in Blue", of course, from Gerswin. Her amazing use of dynamics is what makes this track great, and again you almost think you are listening to a full band. She flows through the infamous themes of Rhapsody in Blue with ease and grace. As the track goes along she brings in various themes and jazz renditions of other famous songs and styles, always coming back around to riffs from the Gershwin Rhapsody. "Sepia Effect" is the final track on the album. It has a beautiful melody and nice arpeggio pattern playing underneath it. Very lovely and appropriate ending for this colorful and exciting album

On this album, Hiromi's style is strongly based on melody and improvising off of that melody, not just random improvisation, but each track is tied to strong, yet interesting themes. This also helps with the feeling of variety, along with the fact that her varied playing keeps everything interesting, giving each track its own personality. That doesn't mean to say that she doesn't do a lot of her own improvising, as there is quite a bit of that here to. But the most important thing is the amount of variety on the album, moving around to different styles, and always adding her unique touch to everything. Her playing will convince you that there are times that you are hearing more than just a piano, but that is all it is, and with her dynamics and ability to suddenly shift from one style to another with smoothness and grace is just amazing. Hiromi is quite amazing and one of the best keyboardists alive on the planet at the moment. Hopefully she will get the recognition she deserves as she should be up there with the best of them.

TCat | 4/5 |


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