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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Live in Marciac

Telarc TEL 34112-09



1. Delusion
2. Now Or Never
3. Voice
4. Flashback
5. Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8, Pathetique
6. Dancando No Paraiso
7. Joy
8. Special Feature: Five Days, Five Countries

Hiromi - Piano, keyboards
Anthony Jackson - Contrabass guitar
Simon Phillips - Drums


This is the second DVD by Hiromi that I have reviewed. The previous one showed her playing solo in New York. This new DVD transports her in 2011 to the French town of Marciac, where she is joined by bass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips.

The trio is well integrated, and you can see the musicians interacting with one another, something which Hiromi clearly loves. For example, in the opening number the melody stops abruptly for some interesting free-form doodling, which delights Hiromi. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she returns to improvising on the tune, thrashing away at the piano and often standing up to get more leverage. Simon Phillips produces some phenomenal work at his massive drum kit, while Anthony Jackson manipulates the six-stringed contrabass guitar with virtuosic fingering.

The excitement continues with Now or Never, a jazz-fusion piece with hints of Latin-America. Hiromi's technique and stamina are truly impressive. However, she does like to repeat the same phrase over and over, which can become a little tiresome. Simon Phillips also seems to have limitless energy. Voice is another fast, thumping number, and one begins to long for a gentle ballad instead of Simon's relentless jazz-rock beat and Hiromi's repetitions. Flashback turns out to be the fourth speedy tune.

Beethoven's "Pathetique" Sonata calms things down at last but, after a straight statement of the main melody, Hiromi resumes her percussive attack on the piano, even though the tempo is slow. Dancando No Paraiso is fast, and ends with a long drum solo from Simon Phillips which mainly depends upon single- and double-stroke rolls. Joy slows the music down again, with an impressive bass solo, although Hiromi continues riffing continually.

The DVD ends with a "Special Feature" called "Five Days, Five Countries", consisting of brief shots of the trio in various locations. It is reminiscent of the "Special Feature" on the previous DVD, which visited three cities. The filming of this new DVD is admirable, with the camera focussing on whichever musician demands attention but without jumping around vertiginously.

To sum up, Hiromi has a phenomenal technique, which she uses to create mind-boggling arpeggios and finger-busting sequences. Her bassist and drummer are also superb technicians. However, Hiromi would do well to realise that less could be more. The sheer intensity of her playing can be tiring for the listener or viewer, especially when it is combined with too many ostinati.

I'm afraid some of the same reservations apply to Hiromi's new CD with her trio: Move (Telarc, TEL 33814-02), where several tracks seem to be based on the same phrase constantly recurring.

Tony Augarde

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