2. Choux à la Crème
3. Sicilian Blue
4. Berne, Baby, Berne!
6. Cape Cod Chips
7. Islands Azores
8. Pachelbel's Canon
9. Viva! Vegas: Show City, Show Girl
10. Daytime in Las Vegas
11. The Gambler
12. Place To Be
Hiromi - Piano
The two previous albums I have reviewed by Hiromi have been with
her "Sonicbloom" group. They were full of interest but occasionally
marred by the excessively noisy guitar of David Fiuczynski. Here,
however, the Japanese pianist plays entirely alone, and it enables
you to hear Hiromi pure, without any distractions. Having studied
at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, she has already made several
albums under her own name and also recorded with the likes of Stanley
Clarke and Chick Corea.
The most immediately striking thing about Hiromi's playing is its
technical brilliance. Some of the tracks here sound as if they are
reproduced at twice the recorded speed, with astonishing runs up and
down the keyboard like a whole cattery of kittens on the keys. Hiromi
(full name Hiromi Uehara) is well-travelled and she says that she
wanted this CD "to be a kind of travel journey" and most
of the pieces on the album portray her reactions to particular places.
The opening BQE is a picture of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
The music vividly captures the feeling of what Hiromi's sleeve-notes
describe as "crazy traffic" and "mad fast cars".
Choux à la Crème is less showy but it captures the yummy essence
of the French cream bun. The bluesy melody is slightly reminiscent
of Christopher Columbus and, halfway through, it goes into
Erroll Garneresque mischief and some funny business with the piano
strings. This illustrates the witty streak in Hiromi's playing, which
is also notable in Islands Azores, which starts with plangent
lyricism but moves into an impish dance. Compare this with Pachelbel's
Canon where the serious, stately theme develops with increasingly
complex lines. Yet however complicated Hiromi's improvisations become,
she maintains a melodic sense.
Viva!Vegas is a kind of three-part suite encapsulating the
frisky atmosphere of the show town, with a middle section - Daytime
in Las Vegas - which takes time to wonder what Vegas is all about.
The tender Somewhere (a Hiromi original, not the West Side
Story song) proves that the pianist has more than just technique:
she can also express deep feeling.
These are just a few of the highlights in an album where every track
is a highlight. Hiromi's remarkable pianism doesn't preclude thoughtfulnesss
or emotion - indeed, it is her way of expressing a wide range of moods
and feelings. Apparently the Japanese version of this album includes
a bonus DVD. It would be nice to see Hiromi in action. But the CD
conjures up plenty of pictures for the listener.