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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Time Control

Telarc SACD 63655





1. Time Difference
2. Time Out
3. Time Travel
4. Deep into the Night
5. Real Clock vs. Body Clock = Jet Lag
6. Time and Space
7. Time Control, or Controlled by Time
8. Time Flies
9. Time’s Up
Hiromi Uehara – Piano, keyboards
David Fiuczynski – Fretted and fretless guitar
Tony Grey – Bass
Martin Valihora - Drums

What happened? Hiromi’s previous album presented her as a pianist whose firework displays were impressive for their subtlety and technical brilliance. But this CD (her fourth for Telarc) starts off with a noisy electronic clatter which almost submerges the grand piano. Hiromi appears to be using more electronic keyboards here - and this, combined with a fuzzy guitar, puts the track into jazz-fusion territory. It’s almost heavy-metal jazz. The addition to Hiromi’s regular trio of guest guitarist Dave Fiuczynski (who has apparently appeared with groups called the Screaming Headless Torsos and Lunar Crash) seems to have turned her down a noisier path. To complete the background information, Hiromi is a Japanese graduate from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, bassist Tony Grey is British and drummer Martin Valihora is Slovakian – two other Berklee alumni. The album was recorded in Nashville, the home of country music!

Time Out continues the fusion mode, with that assertive guitar thrusting the music along and bending notes wildly. It’s interesting and well-played but different from the Hiromi I had got to know, although she contributes a solo on acoustic piano which displays her dexterity. Time Travel continues the electronic bias, with more extrovertly screaming guitar. Not until Deep into the Night does Hiromi indulge the acoustic pianistics which previously endeared her to us. She improvisies with agility and style on a beautifully lyrical melody, followed by David Fiuczynski resorting to some guitar heroics.

Real Clock vs. Body Clock = Jet Lag has the same sort of brooding air of menace as the Shadows’ Man of Mystery (remember those terrible Edgar Lustgarten crime films we endured as second features in the old days?). Mysteriously but amusingly, it turns into a Goonish piece of vaudeville before the brooding returns. Dave makes his guitar sound like a sitar and Hiromi’s keyboards make clucking chicken sounds. It certainly conjures up the disorientation of jet lag and proves that Hiromi can see the funny side of things. Time and Space is also playful, tinkering around with sounds and rhythms. – almost psychedelic. Here and throughout the album the bassist and drummer fit in perfectly with what is going on – however weird! And the SACD sound quality is excellent.

The title track is a complex piece which reminds us of Hiromi’s enviable technique – whizzing up and down the keyboard in a way which explains why she has been compared to Art Tatum. Bassist Tony Grey plays a shapely solo before the band moves into a rather irritating riff beneath a drum solo. Hiromi retrieves credibility with a fine solo on the concert grand. Time Flies opens meditatively, with a tune whose melodiousness may remind you of Pat Metheny in his collaborations with Lyle Mays. Hiromi’s piano solo sparkles. Time’s Up closes the album with a bit of a giggle.

Overall this is a fascinating album, even if at times it sounds like an aural assault (thanks mainly to the addition of guitarist Dave Fiuczynski). Every tune (all compositions by Hiromi herself) has something surprising to keep the listener alert - and the complexity is part of the appeal. It’s no surprise that, in an interview, Hiromi confessed to being a fan of Mark Chagall and Salvador Dali!

Tony Augarde


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