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Jazz - Released September 18, 2019 | Telarc

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Jazz - Released October 6, 2017 | Telarc

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2016 | Telarc

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Jazz - Released April 22, 2003 | Telarc

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On the back of the CD case is a photo that is basically a heads-up as to what you can expect from this debut album by 23-year-old jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara. She is standing outside wearing a black dress and a strange yellow-and-white wrap. Her face is turned up to the sky, her eyes and mouth closed, her jaw clenched; her arms are held straight down by her sides with her fingers splayed wide. It's a stance that bespeaks intense energy and a certain defiance. Most of the music contained in the CD seems to have been made in a similar attitude, for better and, occasionally, for worse. Uehara plays with an almost demonic energy and amazing stamina; on a program that consists entirely of original compositions, most of them delivered in a standard piano trio format, she zips from style to style with a sense of urgency that borders at times on the manic. Her propulsive "XYZ" opens the album with churning intensity; "Double Personality" finds her alternating between nearly harmolodic free improvisation and carefully composed modern jazz; "Joy" offers a gentle breath of fresh air before she resumes her headlong musical charge. The album ends with a bonus track, an unaccompanied piano piece called "The Tom and Jerry Show," which alternates between loopy, Carl Stalling-esque avant-gardism and high-speed ragtime. By the end of this album you'll be tired, but it's a good tired. Heaven only knows what her next album will sound like, but the laws of physics would seem to dictate that she'll have to slow down a bit. ~ Rick Anderson
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Concord Records, Inc.

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Over four years of traveling and two previous recordings, Japanese pianist Hiromi Uehara and her Trio Project, with contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips, have become one of the finest units in contemporary jazz. Their particular prowess lies in seamlessly performing the pianist's knotty, technically challenging, often unpredictable compositions; they are also a closely united group of improvisers. Alive, co-produced by Hiromi and Michael Bishop, was cut over three days. The long title track is filled with unexpected twists, turns, and harmonic feints that lead through a labyrinth of classical, post-bop, and fusion-like segments. Phillips' drumming is outstanding, propulsive, and insistent; it underscores Hiromi's piano vamps and solos and foreshadows seismic shifts in the composition. "Wanderer" is classically inspired in its elaborate use of solo and group counterpoint. It transforms quickly toward swinging post-bop halfway through. The elegant melodic line in "Dreamer" is framed by double-timed floor tom and kick drum, even as the tune's shape and dynamic turn sharp corners quickly. Hiromi's solo takes center stage with crystalline ostinati and spirited legato runs. The taut athleticism in the first three tracks gives way to a more playful imagination on "The Seeker." Here, blues, gospel, and bop come together as Jackson's earthy, swaggering groove waxes prosaic. His more aggressive attack drives the fragmented post-bop on "Player," where Hiromi openly displays the influence of her mentor Ahmad Jamal in her solos. "Warrior" is startling in its use of group counterpoint and imaginative, harmonically rich crescendos. "Firefly" is a meditative solo piano piece whose gradually established theme nearly sings. "Spirit" makes exhaustive use of gospel in its slippery, bluesy approach (Jackson's solo is particularly attractive). "Life Goes On," which closes the set, is accessible yet very sophisticated contemporary jazz. Its funky center is filled out with punchy soloing from the pianist. She develops it in the lower and middle registers before flying over the keyboard and vamping to keep the groove. Phillips' snapping rim shots lead the charge and add accents to Jackson's fingerpopping solo. Given Hiromi's wonderful compositions for this collective, Alive's consistent signature is one of surprise. They are wildly complex, yet sound natural and free of artifice. Its feel is bright, warm, and hip, easily her finest outing with the Trio Project to date. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released April 22, 2003 | Telarc

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Telarc

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Jazz - Released October 6, 2017 | Telarc

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Telarc

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Pop - Released January 1, 2014 | Telarc

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2016 | Telarc

Soul - Released May 15, 2019 | Fortune Records

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Jazz - Released September 18, 2019 | Telarc

Since making her recorded debut in the 1990s, Hiromi Uehara has established herself as one of the most gifted jazz pianists of her generation. She issued Spectrum on the eve of her fortieth birthday as an overview of what she learned as a musician in her thirties. It's the second time she's done this; her debut solo offering, Place to Be, in 2009 that surveyed her twenties. Hiromi conjures up the same power and creative facility solo as she does with her Trio Project (bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips). Spectrum addresses a guiding notion imposed by her piano teacher: that she quite literally envision prismatic color through music. Set-opener "Kaleidoscope" commences with a sequence of single notes played in an angular pattern that gives way to episodic multiples in staggered and syncopated sequences -- a bit like Philip Glass' piano cadences in Einstein on the Beach -- and she adds and subtracts while layering fleet and forceful dynamics and spiraling arpeggios across, under, and atop her chordal syntax; they emerge, dissipate, and evolve into new ones throughout. You can hear everyone from Bach and Scarlatti to Art Tatum and Chick Corea in this workout. The physically demanding title track builds on a similar idea, although modal and contrapuntal acrobatics chase one another at high speeds with only expansive, chordal interludes offering respite, and then only briefly. But speed and dexterity aren't the only things on offer. Her ballads, including "Whiteout," offer an elegant lyricism that touches on Beethoven and Ravel as well as Scott Joplin and Errol Garner. It aches with emotion and the hint of a smile in its improvisational moments. "Yellow Wurlitzer Blues" reflects the harmonic invention of Thelonious Monk if he were a stride blues pianist. Hiromi's sense of improvisational lightheartedness is stacked in punchy grooves in turnarounds with deft scalar feints for good measure. She offers a wonderfully inventive take on ragtime in "Mr. C.C.," an homage to the original king of comedy (and composer) Charlie Chaplin, with a crescendo worthy of his "City Lights." At 22 minutes, "Rhapsody in Various Shades of Blue" is not only the longest cut here, it's the most mind-blowing. Of course it uses George Gershwin's iconic composition as the recurrent theme and jumping-off point for integrating jazz (including John Coltrane's "Blue Train"), vintage American song, contemporary improvisation, blues, and pop -- Hiromi grafts Gershwin onto the Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" inside this labyrinthian suite, then returns to the source -- with canny improvised embellishments along the way, illustrating not only several shades of the color blue, but a panoramic vision of these composers. This 75-minute recital portrays the nearly spiritual command Hiromi has of her instrument and its various languages to extend her astonishing technical facility. More than this, however, it underscores the visionary, authoritative place her pianism commands in modern jazz. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop - Released September 30, 2010 | HIROMI

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Pop - Released February 7, 2010 | HIROMI