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Hiromi Uehara

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Hiromi Uehara Spiral album cover
3.37 | 47 ratings | 4 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Spiral (10:40)
- Music For Three-Piece Orchestra -
2. Open Door - Tuning - Prologue (10:16)
3. Deja Vu (7:45)
4. Reverse (5:09)
5. Edge (5:19)
6. Old Castle, By the River, In the Middle of the Forest (8:20)
7. Love and Laughter (9:20)
8. Return of the Kung-Fu World Champion (9:39)

Total Time 66:28

Bonus track on Japanese release:
9. Big Chill (7:31)

Line-up / Musicians

- Hiromi Uehara / piano, co-producer
- Tony Grey / bass guitar
- Martin Valihora / drums

Releases information

CD Telarc ‎- CD-83631 (2005, US)

Thanks to auralsun for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HIROMI UEHARA Spiral ratings distribution

(47 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

HIROMI UEHARA Spiral reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by fuxi
3 stars We know that Hiromi Uehara was a pupil of Chick Corea; in 2008 they even released an album together. All the indications seem to be that Hiromi is, first and foremost, a typical "fusion" player, but when I listen to her albums I am continually reminded of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Mind you, I'm not thinking of the Hammond-organ saturated ELP of 'Stones of Years' or 'Jerusalem', and even less of synth- soaked compositions like 'Abbadon's Bolero'. But I can't get it out of my head that Hiromi must be familiar with ELP as piano trio, especially on tracks such as 'Take a Pebble' and the acoustic middle section of 'Karn Evil 9'.

All of Spiral's "official" tracks are acoustic. Hiromi uses a Yamaha grand piano throughout. Her bass player, Tony Grey, is of the calibre of Jeff Berlin; he has a knack of performing astonishing solos that make his bass sound like a super-swift electric guitar. Her drummer, Martin Valihora, is a joy throughout: a true virtuoso in his own right. Together they perform compositions that seem more strongly influenced by rock and classical European concert music than by jazz or blues. Hiromi writes delicate, unforgettable and unsentimental melodies (among contemporary jazz pianists this is a comparatively rare ability), and in her playing she often resorts to a beautiful legato that wouldn't sound out of place in a Haydn or Beethoven sonata. What especially reminds me of ELP is her tendency to play rapid, sure-fire riffs with her left hand, and to improvise with her right. Yes, Hiromi's trio really is a lean and modern-sounding update of the old ELP!

As bonus we get a super-fast, super-funky delivery of Hiromi's own 'Return of Kung-Fu World Champion'. Now this is out-and-out fusion! Chirpy synths are employed throughout, and the music will remind you of Return to Forever or Herbie Hancock's Headhunters. I can't imagine it won't put a smile on your face. Enjoy!

Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars The continuousness of the effort and the idea will have the part finally created by the person's sense. And, the situation in which it came across Jazz by chance after she started the piano and it devoted herself might have been fatal for her.

She left the university in Japan before graduation in 1999 and went to study to "Berklee College of Music". Her technology and idea established the road as Jazz Pianist in the debut album that had been announced in the following 2003 years after it had graduated from Berklee attended with the superior technology though she was hoping for the road as the composer at first.

She is making remarks at the announcement of the debut album. It meant the part where the music character was pursued because it was enhanced as the performance as Trio by the regular whom she had appointed had a certain kind of possibility. Her style and idea might be consistent through "Brain" announced in the debut album and 2004. The overwhelming performance, technology, and idea might be the points that should make a special mention. And, it is expressed the possession of the element that she doesn't stay in standard Jazz enough as a work. The sound of a piano and a variegated keyboard might have been in the part that had already exceeded the frame of Jazz. Processing of complex rhythm and melody. Or, the perfection as the composition of the tune that the woman who aimed at the composer does. They have originality enough.

It was a form as Trio that it was basic as her work after the debut album had been announced. However, the guest has been appointed as for the recording by "Another Mind" and "Brain". It is recorded as a form of pure Trio in the album. If it borrows her word, overwhelming power of this album might be satisfactorily purely demonstrated as a possibility and a challenge as the performance of Trio. The album is recorded in Nashville in May, 2005. And, it is said that she created the music of the orchestra by Trio for this album. It might be exactly appearance of the possibility and the challenge to music.

"Spiral" has the flow of the overwhelming might from standing up of the quiet sound. Existence in the person, the change, and space hangs as a theme of this tune. The name of a song might be exactly reflected in the tune as those elements. It shifts from the flow of a beautiful piano to Solo of Bass of Tony Grey. The obbligati of the organ twines round Solo of Bass with the anacatesthesia processed by the effect. The flow that exceeds the frame of pure Jazz might contain a very much or a progressive element. The theme appears again and it has development as standard Jazz. It might be a new exactly road of the woman who began to pursue the possibility as Trio.

"Open Door-Tuning-Prologue" contains the theme as the suite. The performance of Trio combines from standing up of the quiet sound with a beautiful flow. The drum keeps the atmosphere of the tune by making good use of mallets. It shifts from the part of a few classical to an intermittent flow and the tune advances. The progress of transposed Chord has the complexity and originality. This tune might also exactly pursue the possibility as Trio. The piano merges well in the tune.

"Deja Vu" might be along the theme of this album, too. It shifts from the start with the part of the tango to a gentle flow. The line of Bass that continues the flow is also consistent. The tune might have the part that can be listened like unifying the rhythm and Free Tempo of Latin a little.

"Reverse" It starts from the rhythm of six. It listens to an overwhelming technology with fast Passage. The tune might give a difficulty and a loose impression a little. However, Improvisation understands the tune enough and keeps the quality. The power of piano Ad- Rib is overwhelming. And, it twines well for the melody that Solo of the drum is complex.

"Edge" starts with considerably progressive progress. The flow that keeps fast Passage and develops the rhythm of the odd number might be splendid. Trio continues the dash feeling and the tension while continuing the rhythm in union. Solo of the drum might surely be a part for this Trio. The tune has the overwhelming might and the possibility.

"Old Castle,y the river,in the middle of a forest" has appointed the rhythm of a fast tango. It is said that she sees certain one picture and created this tune from the impression of the picture. Because the title had not adhered to the picture, it is said that she was influenced from the picture and reflected in music with the title of this tune. The rhythm of the tango by Trio shifts to the rhythm of gentle eight. The melody will have a moving part. The tune returns to the part of Latin again.

"Love And Laughter" is a tune with the element of Funky Jazz. The impression of Jazz of New Orleans might be contained. Fast and slow might be put with the element as standard Jazz in the tune of this album. The performance and the technology as Trio are demonstrated enough of course. The melody and the composition might be unique. And, it has the impression that doesn't end in the tune with a simple flow that shifts to solo of the drum, too.

"Return of Kung-Fu World Champion" is a sequel of "Kung-Fu World Champion" collected to "Brain". The listener will be able to imagine the grapple by the expert of Kung-Fu exactly unfolded in the presence. The keyboard, the idea, and the composition of Hiromi that manipulates a variegated sound have the overwhelming might. The dash feeling is kept with an Oriental melody from Spacey's element. She understands as making the sound of the keyboard is complete. Flow of theme from complex rhythm by fast tempo. It shifts to Solo of Bass with they continued. It shifts to the theme the tune slows the tempo and with unique. The tune offers a moving sound from the explosion of the drum attended with the following development. The sound and the development overwhelmingly constructed will excite the listener.

It might be an album with which the idea, room, and the possibility are exactly blocked. The originality of Hiromi has already been established.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I really like Hiromi's piano playing - very technical, correct, a bit dry, but with some emotional colours. Never too warm or overemotional, but never just a demonstration of technical abilities as well.

This album is based on her compositions, and is excellent demonstration of her musical abilities. Whenever all the music there is mostly acoustic trio, every listener can easily hear how every instrument sounds. And almost in all moments instruments sounds great! By the way, Hiromi demonstrates her strong composition abilities there too.

When listen the acoustic piano with bass and drums support, you can hear the Corea's influention there, but even more - classical European school. No groove or swing, very chamber sound. Even being jazz, many compositions sound as chamber music. So, everyone expecting fusion there will be heavily disappointed.

To tell truth, the final album composition (on European release, I have Japanese one with bonus song on it) is pure electric fusion in great RTF tradition, with fast and energetic electric keyboards, and of really great quality! So, she knows how to play fusion!

But in whole - very competent contemporary (or even chamber) jazz album, real joy for that genre lovers, but disappointment for jazz fusion fans.

My rating is 3+.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not so much crazed fusion workout as a warmer, more composition based entity, Spiral still twirls itself around your head with occasionally wild time signatures and degrees of difficulty concerning melody lines that make this sort of jazz a big no-no if you're looking for background music to go with a candlelight dinner. The title track is a real babe though, a song I would love to roll around on a bearskin rug by the fireplace. Soft atmospheric opening, a gorgeous main melody, a beautiful spacey bass solo, some synth washes here and there to add a bit of ambience...great stuff.

Then comes, in my opinion, the most important section of this album, the Music for Three Piece Orchestra, which covers tracks two through five. With just a piano, bass and drums, these compositions have as much influence derived from the prog rock genre as with jazz and classical music. "Edge" seems like a jazzy variation of ELP's Tarkus at times. Impressive. In fact, the whole suite is impressive, particularly "Deja Vu", one of her best compositions in general.

"Old Castle, By the River, In the Middle of the Forest" is a sweet number, again more composition-based than a flailing improv, which makes this effort an easy one to digest for those getting into this sort of fusion material. By "Love and Laughter", though, I was looking for something a bit different. The playing is stellar as usual, but the song does seem like a bit of a knock-off after everything that came before my itchiness to skip it is sometimes hard to contain.

All the piano based grooves up until now make "Return of the Kung-Fu World Champion" all the more jarring as she ditches the piano and rips out a bunch of wild, funky synthy riffs over a fast tempo. The song cooks, although it does go on for a bit. Still, it stands out bigtime and makes for a great live number.

The playing by all three members of this trio is fantastic, and at times, astonishing. Hiromi proves her playing and composing chops quite well here. Definitely worth checking out.

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