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Hiromi Uehara - The Trio Project: Alive CD (album) cover

THE TRIO PROJECT: ALIVE

Hiromi Uehara

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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3 stars I am travelling through the world of music. Every day there are new pieces that I achieve and try to understand. Quite recently did I begin to investigate new produced record and still active artist, when I before just listened to old bands.

Hiromi Uehara is a japanese jazz musician who has made a lot of praised music since a young age and now 2014 she and bassist Anthony Jackson and the drummer Simon Philips made "Alive" which is Hiromi's ninth studio record. Before me five others have rated the record and given it as many stars as posible.

The record contains nine tracks and everyone is long lasting so the listening time is 75 minutes of music. The music is varied and uses a lot of thoughts that evolves into interesting pieces. The best song in my opinion, in "Warrior" which is both very jazzy and very rocky and gives of glimpses of other progressive rock(9/10). Also "Alive" and "Wanderer" do I like with a lot of craziness and love for melodic streams(8/10). The other songs have parts that I like but I have hard to realy understand them.

Well, I am quite new to jazz rock I don't think I am a good judge to say this record är related to other records in the same genre. I can just judge from my own experience and then I most say taht I liked a lot here,a nd I liked the spirit and craziness here and there. Though are my experiences still too vague and the music perhaps too jazzy. I credit the record and suppose that others will like it even more. Three stars!

Report this review (#1225259)
Posted Sunday, July 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lot of Jazz not enough Rock in this Fusion

Someone recommended me this CD of a new Japanese keyboard player so I obliged and purchased It. It is an excellent CD if you are into jazz (which I am not) She is a very talented player, surprising in her ideas and the music flows naturally but a little more rock could have been good.

The songs are outstanding and the influences abound from Keith Emerson (Alive) to Supertramp (Seeker) in a jazzy environment.

So if you are in the mood, just throw your shoes away and chill some white wine while you relax with this music. Three stars easily.

Report this review (#1441187)
Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awesome Virtuosity.

Hiromi's album "Alive" was my introduction to Hiromi. It was playing on the speakers inside a music store back in 2014 when it was released, and was so good I had to pick it up immediately. Her Trio Project with Anthony Jackson and Simon Phillips is a really excellent venue for showcasing each of their talents. While her first albums often featured guitarists or horn players, truth be told Hiromi fills up the space better than most players (of any sort), and the Trio format gives her the freedom to do so. This album is a tour-de-force of excellent musicianship, not only by Hiromi but Jackson and Phillips as well. Phillips in particular plays out in a number of places, while Jackson only takes a few solos. But you can hear the virtuosity on every track, and there are a number of really innovative pieces here. As for the music, at 75 minutes, this is a long collection, with all but the last track a new Hiromi original. Like her other albums, this mostly features fast progressive rock-influenced jazz fusion, but with a mix of styles. And like her other albums, she titles most songs here thematically, this time in terms of action-oriented personal titles ("Seeker", "Dreamer", etc). There really aren't any bad tracks here. The first half contains more of the really fast and complex tunes, while more traditional jazz styles are concentrated in the latter half, and so the album might feel a bit front-loaded (for progressive rock lovers). But the playing is incredible on every track. My favourites include the first three ("Alive", "Wanderer", and the awesome "Dreamer"), and "Warrior" and the lovely quiet and slow "Firefly". These tracks alone come to 43 minutes, which is roughly the length of a regular vinyl album. Every Hiromi album also features a bluesy shuffle, and on this one it is "Spirit", although "Player" also shifts in and out of this, and to a degree the cover that she chose to close the album "Life Goes On". These are all very good, but not my favourites, and to my mind the album loses a bit of steam as it approaches the end, and so really the album doesn't so many tunes. Saying this, there is so much excellent music here, this is definitely worth picking up. Of her Trio Project albums, I place this just under "Voice" (which is second to her Trio Project excellent album "Move"). I give this one 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

Report this review (#1699026)
Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 | Review Permalink
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4 stars There's something so mesmerizing about watching Hiromi Uehara perform live. She's one hell of a disciplined and articulate piano player, but the way her energy and spirit translate to the stage is what really makes her shine. The giddy smile she has, the eccentric movements of her fingers on the keys, and the way she casually performs such acrobatic feats of piano wizardry as if it were second nature? it's all entrancing. Then again, I suppose being discovered by Chick Corea as a teenager could put a smile on a musician's face with ease. Mr. Corea found Hiromi at age 17 and invited her to play at his next concert with him, which undoubtedly heightened her profile in the jazz world. But, as her many projects have proven, she's much more than just another face in the sea of jazz pianists making a name for themselves. No, this virtuoso has plenty of tricks up her sleeve, and nowhere are they more apparent (at least to this reviewer) than on Alive, her third album in the Trio Project.

Going back to what I said about Hiromi's spirit in a live setting, that same spirit absolutely translates to the studio on Alive. The playing is often highly precise and tight, but as the pianist whirls around the backing band on the ivories, each influence and layer unfolds slowly and delicately. One minute we're listening to the free jazz powerhouse of "Player," with its wildly shifting tempos and rhythms, but then we get a track like "Warrior" that plays out as a delicious pairing of jazz fusion and progressive rock. We also get a decent helping of classical (particularly romantic-era) to even things out, especially on the intimate balladry of "Firefly." To say Hiromi's playing has personality is an understatement, and the sense of atmosphere she brings to Alive is one of the biggest reasons to listen to it. Opening title track "Alive" is an amazing way to reveal her compositional and instrumental talents, storming in as a powerful statement of intent with its flashy piano runs and drum rolls. Once the proverbial smoke clears, the precision and sense of dynamics displayed by the trio is incredibly palpable. Even at nine minutes, the tune never feels like a drag to get through. But more importantly, it basically serves as an all-encompassing taste of what you'll hear throughout the album.

Speaking of the trio, the two other musicians are fantastic as well. Anthony Jackson (bass) and Simon Phillips (drums) are a phenomenal fit to round out the group, playing complex motifs and chord progressions as tightly and neatly as they can. And yet, much like Hiromi, you can hear a ton of personality in their performances. I love when solos and jam sessions play out like miniature conversations akin to bickering with one another, and jazz is often quite loaded with these moments. Just listen to the slow rolling bass of "Player," for instance. It sounds mischievous and almost sleazy combined with the subtle drumwork in the background, and the wacky piano licks provide an amazing counterpoint to the slow, lumbering bass lines beneath. These guys can also adapt to different moods and atmospheres incredibly well, such as when the energetic title track is succeeded by a much more subtle and understated tune like Wanderer. The song still has its flashy moments, but the overall feel is much more plaintive and melancholic, even down to how the fast piano and bass runs are executed. It often plays out like a jazz/classical mix, and the trio as a whole is incredibly adept at switching between the genres at will. With songs like "Wanderer" and "Warrior" in particular, it's pretty amazing how well beauty and technicality collide on Alive.

As of this point, Hiromi's been involved in a ton of projects. I could go on for hours about how influential she is in both her home country and the jazz world, as well as the fact that she's performed with big names like Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Japanese pop legend Akiko Yano. But if you want an amazing index of what Hiromi Uehara is all about, Alive is a wonderful way to get acquainted with her work. It's the kind of album that displays just how much weight and power her work has in the world of jazz fusion, and it's still among my favorite albums in that very genre. If you have even the slightest bit of interest in jazz or even progressive rock, this is a fantastic one to pick up.

Report this review (#2492531)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2021 | Review Permalink

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