A child prodigy-turned-visionary keyboard artist, Japanese pianist Hiromi returns a decade after her solo debut with Spectrum, a diverse and satisfying collection signalling how much she has spread her artistic wings during the past ten years. With blazing technique the opening track "Kaleidoscope" is a pyrotechnical display of the pianist's stunningly nimble meld of mind and digits. That's countered in the next track "Whiteout" by her reflective ability to evoke snowflakes before the piece turns grand and falls into playful swirls and a lightly swinging rhythm. Digging deeper into this extraordinarily varied and beautifully recorded collection, Hiromi shows again and again that she is no mere showoff and has much to say as an artist.
In "Yellow Wurlitzer Blues," written for a tiny piano that a bar owner at home in Japan bought for her to play, she dabbles in a sprightly chugging barrelhouse style. A frantic "MR. C.C." mimics the onscreen actions of a favorite actor, Charlie Chaplin. One of The Beatles’ most covered tunes, "Blackbird" gets an uncommonly solemn reading, complete with varying tempos and masterful, ringing notes. Spectrum's defining moment comes in "Rhapsody in Various Shades of Blue," where Hiromi gives a bravura performance that displays her improvisational gifts. Using Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" as a base, she deftly weaves in lengthy quotes from John Coltrane's "Blue Train" and most unexpectedly, The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes." A singular mix of seasoned crowd pleaser and dazzling virtuoso eager to absorb diverse influences and stay consequential, Hiromi, takes another vital step in her artistic journey.