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


Hiromi Uehara

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars I met Hiromi by chance. I was strolling along the web looking for "I don't remember what" when I bumped into the picture of a crazy haired laughing Japanese pianist. I couldn't help throwing a glance at Wikipedia: "Hiromi Uehara is a Jazz composer and pianist? known for her virtuosic technique, energetic live performances and blend of musical genres such as post-bop, progressive rock, classical and fusion in her compositions. "I love Bach, Oscar Peterson e Franz Liszt" - she said of herself ? "but also Ahmad Jamal e Sly & the Family Stone, Dream Theater and King Crimson". Progressive rock! A visit to Progarchives was then necessary. Hiromi's fourth album "Time Control" is here considered essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music! I had to listen to her, so I immediately opened YouTube and watched a few live performances: she blew my mind! In less than a week I watched all her YouTube videos and listened to some of her records. Time Control is essential, but Spark, well, Spark is different, maybe not an immediate record, but? something more. If Time Control is a prog album, Spark sounds different, if Time Control is jazz, undoubtedly Spark is more jazz, if Time Control is classical, no one can deny that Spark is more than classical. In few words Spark raises the bar: the title track starts with a 40 second piano classical tiny tune that leaves space to a prog-what-er-rock phrase which turns jazz before you can imagine. In less than two minutes Hiromi's Trio Project has declined all musical modern genres. "I don't care about genres" - tells Hiromi, Ok, anything will happen in the next 7 minutes: anything at any moment. Hiromi, Anthony Jackson (!!!) and Simon Phillips (!!!) think music at the speed of light and at the same speed conduct you anywhere? As Hiromi herself explains "When you feel a serious Spark for something, this will put you in an emotional and irrational state of mind, as In a Trance, and you want to be Take(n) Away, to the Wonderland, there are moments of Indulgence and of Dilemma, but What Will Be, Will be? You just have to Wake up and Dream? and All's Well, that ends well. Easy to say? Maybe! Easy to understand? I'm not so sure? I had to listen to it many times, well, I couldn't help doing so?she (they) put a spell on me. I saw the light, it was so fast, just as only the light can be, I fear I'll never recover. If you kind of love jazz or feel open minded, this is the record to buy. Probably Hiromi's bands' best record.
Report this review (#1589552)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hiromi's music and musicianship is always of very high quality, and all her albums are worth picking up. This is Hiromi's latest, and like the previous three albums, features her 'Trio Project' with Anthony Jackson on bass and Simon Phillips on drums (Hiromi plays the piano and occasionally a synth). By now, her Trio Project albums all reveal a kind of formula, with the more difficult and progressive-rock oriented songs more concentrated nearer the beginning, coupled with a few quieter pieces, blues, and shuffles which are usually found in the latter half of the album (and usually one song features a humourous-sounding synth-lead). This album is no different in that respect (although it seems some of these tunes are their most-ever difficult to play - the display of virtuosity is clear). I myself prefer either her progressive-tinged pieces, or her quieter evocative pieces/solos, which I find to be more musical than her blues and shuffles (which is not to say that I don't like the latter styles, just that her forte is the former). This album I find to be a bit less musical overall than her other Trio Project albums (my favourite is 'Move'), as well as her more musical albums before the Trio Project (my favourite is 'Brain', but 'Spiral' is also great). This one seems a bit more formulaic than previous albums, and while there are some great tunes (eg "Dilemma", "Wake Up and Dream" and the title track), none of the songs quite reach the heights of 'Brain', 'Voice' or 'Move', or even her previous album 'Alive'. Saying this, the music is still very high quality, and if you like great drumming, you will be particularly pleased with this album. While I find the piano could be higher up in the mix on a number of the tunes, Phillips drums are right up front, the pieces are quite difficult to play and Phillips drumming is mesmerizing it is so good (just like Hiromi's playing in that respect). Phillips also gets in some great solos on this album, and even though I find the shuffles less musical, on this album you can't help but marvel at Phillip's amazing drumming on the key one ("What will be will be"). Like the other Trio Project albums, Jackson's work is also very solid, although he is not in the spotlight much (with very few solos). On balance, an excellent album although not quite as good as the first two Trio Project albums ('Voice', 'Move'), or her two best albums before the Trio Project ('Brain', 'Spiral'). I give this album 8.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.
Report this review (#1699034)
Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars The latest album from Hiromi Uehara's Trio Project largely finds the keyboard wizard continuing at what she does best - offering up technically adept, hooky jazz-fusion piano pieces with good command of mood and atmosphere. Gentler moments also get in here and there, with Wake Up and Dream being a particularly peaceful solo number. Simon Phillips gets some reasonable drum solos in on the title track and In a Trance, but isn't outright obnoxious about it so I'm inclined to let it slide. Though I prefer the earlier Trio Project releases somewhat, Spark still demonstrates that there's some creative juice left in the tank, though I can't put hand on heart and say that I don't think a lineup revision or expansion wouldn't help shake things up nicely.
Report this review (#1915835)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hiromi is an incredibly gifted pianist and songwriter. This is her tenth studio solo release and her fourth with this killer trio that also includes Anthony Jackson (bass) and Simon Phillips (drums). What makes this different from any other jazz trio is that Hiromi sprinkles influences of Latin, blues, pop, rock, classical, and R&B throughout her music. Her playing can be fierce, delicate, emotional and all out shredding on one song. Simon's rock influence and Anthony's spot on playing carry the music to greater heights than could be achieved with any other musicians. Standout tracks for me are "Spark" ? a progressive jazz monster that sounds more like a fireball than a spark (this tune cooks), "In a Trance" has many different sections that work well together and an excellent drum solo to boot, and I love how Hiromi tinkles the chords (in a Monkish dissonant off-beat way) on the exquisite and calming "Indulgence".

The audio on this is pristine and in this age of crappy recording/mastering this stands out as a breath of fresh air; a reference disc of how it should be done. The drums sound like you are in the same room with Simon, the cymbals shimmer and decay as they should, the bass is fat and punchy and the piano has power - kudos to Michael Bishop for the fantastic engineering work. Overall, this is a great release that any music fan should enjoy.

Report this review (#2236954)
Posted Tuesday, July 9, 2019 | Review Permalink

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