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Hiromi Uehara - Brain CD (album) cover


Hiromi Uehara

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars Great album of a great woman piano player (I think). Pure jazz fusion with great performances when rapid contexts have a strong atmonspheres and very calm and zen atmospheres make a great album concept. To me, Hiromi is a great revelation from Japan, that is a country with some of the best Jazz Fusion bands of the world just Kenso , KBB and other's. The music performance are very good and this album in particular is absolute great. Great bass moments that is very balanced in this context work. Drums with good presence, the necessary to make great Jazz moments. Great contemporany album and a name to listen for who that like Jazz Prog fusion. If you think that is a comercial music, I think that is a new great jazz conception when piano is the pricipal instrument. Keyboards are very powerfull to but not the principal in this album. I give 5 stars for this album and to me, a great addiction in any Jazz Fusion Collection
Report this review (#268093)
Posted Thursday, February 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Possibly the cutest artist on prog archives, I was intrigued by Hiromi Uehara as soon as I heard of her. Besides being a rare prog hottie, she was mentored by the great Chick Corea and additionally, listening to many records by Caucasian men, it was refreshing to hear the work of an Asian female.

I felt I was onto a winner when I heard the opening track Kungfu World Champion. An interesting fusion of wierd electronic keyboard sounds and smooth piano mixed in with rich traditional bass lines and sharp drumming, it manages to be humorous with its sarcastic Oriental refrain yet also genuinely technically impressive- they even interpolate Entrance Of The Gladiators.

Unfortunately, for me at least, this track is not representative of the album. After this exciting and playful introduction, the album settles into much more vanilla territory which for the most part is not particularly fusion or prog to my ears. Second track If may run for 7 minutes but there are no real shifts in dynamic or unusual instrumentation. You could play it by the fireside on a romantic night- it is warm, excellently played music, but I really don't see it satisfying a prog fan. And while the quality of the playing sustains across the album, the lack of surprises in the songwriting mean the album doesn't stand out. The gentle experimentation of Kungfu World Champion is never seen again (aside from a short, bizarre intro and outro of otherworldly noise on the otherwise pedestrian title track) which leads to disappointment.

There is one other track that really works for me though and that is Desert On The Moon. Despite having as desolate a title as you could think of, it begins with Uehara laying down the melodies in a welcomely uncalculated fashion before drummer Valihora joins her with some very nice cymbal work. He uses more of his kit as the song, essentially one excellent Uehara from solo, rolls along and really gives it a sense of pace.

Desert On The Moon uses its time well but on the ten minute each pair that closes the album, Keytalk and Legend Of The Purple Valley, I ended up looking at my watch. The vocal synths used on Keytalk sound silly to me, even stupid, and it feels a bit like Uehara's just goofing off rather than doing something that should be on an LP. Legend Of The Purple Valley is perfectly.... nice... it just never gets beyond that, plodding along with the expected sleepy/mysterious nightime vibe you expect a jazz instrumental to end an album with.

Uehara can certainly play and I am not doubting her or her bands abilities. What's bringing this down to 3 stars is a lack of mentally stimulating structures in the songs- the album pootles along pleasantly for the most part but rarely, if ever, will you go "Wow that's nice." I can see real jazz/keys fans adding another star but for the dedicated progger, there's little here to write home about.

Report this review (#274319)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Her best pre-trio project album.

This is the album the set for Hiromi a trio approach, which allows her the freedom to really develop her style, and which she would later develop into her Trio Project. This album doesn't feature Simon Philips on drums, but instead Martin Valihora, but does feature Anthony Jackson on three tracks (as well as Tony Grey on the others) on bass. This is my favourite of Hiromi's pre-Trio Project albums, and contains some of Hiromi's best compositions. And unlike her debut ('Another Mind') or her Sonic Bloom albums, which to my ears are a bit uneven, every track here is stellar. Hiromi has quite a musical sense of humour, usually communicated with talking-synth noises. These are on display here on two tracks - the opener "Kung-Fu World Champion" and the second-last tune "Keytalk". These tracks deviate a bit from her typical virtuoso piano-based work, and jazz purists might not like them, yet they bring a large smile to me. But the rest of the album is even better. This album contains my favourite Hiromi composition, "Green Tea Farm", a beautiful soft and delicate jazz piano piece. The musicality is also really exceptional on "Desert on the Moon" and "Legend of the Purple Valley", both of which feature Anthony Jackson on bass. These three songs are up there among HIromi's best. But in fact, the whole album is great and each of these songs seems to have more of its own identifiable character than pieces on her later albums. And while Jackson's playing is great as always, so is Tony Grey's bass playing, and this album seems to feature more bass solos than her other albums. This is an album that not only flows really well (as long as you like the quirky "Keytalk"), but it builds on itself with each track, so it propels you forward and makes you want to sit and listen to the whole thing. If you love her Trio Project albums, my guess is that you will love this album too. I give this album 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to high 4 PA stars.

Report this review (#1699019)
Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Not a prog album. Neither a jazz album. A trio album. (Hiromi on Keyboards, Martin Valihora on Drums, Tony Grey and Anthony Jackson alternatively on bass). After her pyrothecnic debut, Hiromi explores new territories. The result is quite surprising. Each track sounds different from the others and you really don't know what to expect next. The beginning is flamboyant. "Kung-Fu World Champion" is a mix of genres at maximum speed: a sort of videogame crazy funk oriental jazzy music. "If" is calmer, mostrly jazz with a prog flavour. "The wind song" shows Hiromi's classical training and progressive taste with a lyrical cascade of notes. "Brain", after a retro computerized intro, alternates a captivating romantic theme with its jazz declination. "Desert on the Moon" is a hyperfast fusion track, with a few quieter and lyrical moments. Anthony Jackson and Martin Valihora at their best. "Green Tea Farm", a solo piano recording, reveals Hiromi's nostalgia for her homeland. "Keytalk" is absolute fusion: "(the keys) laugh, moan, cry. I wanted them to speak out loud"! "Legend of the Purple Valley" is a long track composed on an ancient japanese story, a sort of prog jazz and a somewhat oriental scent. In my opinion, the record's most moving track! Strange to say, a track with lesser future fortune than deserved. I'm Hiromi's huge fan, so it's 5 stars out of 5. Maybe for a prog fan, it could be 4. Here Hiromi's voices aren't reunited in one single style, the artist is still looking for her way. Maybe not Hiromi's most mature album, surely Hiromi's most various one!
Report this review (#2300067)
Posted Friday, December 27, 2019 | Review Permalink

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