Hiromi UEHARA – Another Mind 2003

Hiromi UEHARA – Another Mind 2003

Jazz

I hate to take on George Colligan, a jazz pianist for whom I have the absolute highest respect, and someone who has made some very fine recordings for the Dutch CrissCross label and Spanish Fresh Sounds label. But what’s going on in his review of this disc, professional jealousy? Sounds like it to me. And it’s perfectly understandable that an artist possessed of true genius who finds himself playing second fiddle to someone who–let’s be honest, here–really doesn’t understand jazz as Colligan does would react as he does. But that doesn’t make it OK.
…Phenomena like Hiromi–players with monster chops and only a sketchy concept of True Jazz–are going to come along. Perhaps they will even be snatched up by major labels while musicians possessing actual genius–musicians like George Colligan–will be relegated to marginal labels like Fresh Sounds…Does that make Hiromi bogus, a one-star artist, as Colligan in his review rates her? The answer is a resounding NO! OK, there’s a bit of flash and empty virtuosity in her stuff. Nevertheless, SHE CAN PLAY. Check out her way bloozy number, “Joy.” Plus, she’s got a generous dollop of funk in her (see “010101”). Do you deny it, George? If she can’t play, why would someone like Ahmad Jamal praise her up one side and down the other? Are you saying, George, that Ahmad Jamal, a pianist of the absolute highest standing in the jazz world, has sold out his opinion, that he doesn’t really mean what he says when he lavishes praise on Hiromi?
Bottom line:
I have listened to this disc numerous times, and I find it to be perfectly creditable. Yes, Hiromi needs seasoning and depth. Yes, she is probably where she is as much from hype and good looks as she is from strictly jazz pianism. And those who find themselves relegated to second-class status while she enjoys jazz ascendancy probably have a right to feel slighted. But you know what? DEAL WITH IT. And don’t downgrade someone else’s success just because you haven’t received your due recompense. That’s small minded. And we expect more from our jazz geniuses than that.
By Jan P. Dennis.
**
I have to admit to being somewhat confused by the negative reviews. It’s strange to think that this CD gets blasted for being “not jazz.” Considering the vast range of styles that “jazz” encompasses, I think that the negative reviewers are generally rabid traditionalists.
To my ears, this CD is a refreshing breath of air. I tend to prefer music that shies away from tonality, but this CD set me straight. Tonal music has plenty to offer us still.
Hiromi’s playing is an odd blend. It’s virtuosic, to say the least, but is well-balanced by a fabulous ear for melody. In fact, in the midst of her runs are melodic lines that are so starkly beautiful and personal that they almost sound cheesy.
Almost.
This CD ultimately contains some of the most breathtaking playing that’s been released this year. Tracks like Dancando No Paraiso are hair raising chops fests (and I mean that in a good way).
Hiromi’s playing avoids the rut that many young players fall into – all flash and no soul. In her playing, there is a constant exuberance and joy that is devoid of ego gratification. She performs well with her group, and melds her sound to fit theirs. Think Chick Corea instead of Oscar Peterson. Both have incredible technique, but only one of them knows how to work in a group.
As a composer, she gives away her age somewhat. “010101 (binary system)” is a mildly irritating romp on the synth, but even that has a youthful charm.
This is a great album, and Hiromi is a performer to keep one’s eye out for. She’s headed for greatness.
By S. Hawkins.
**
“Hiromi continues to change the musical landscape everywhere she performs,” says pianist Ahmad Jamal, who co-produced Another Mind (along with veteran bassist/ arranger/producer and Berklee professor Richard Evans) and has taken an active interest in her career. “Her music, together with her overwhelming charm and spirit, causes her to soar to unimaginable musical heights. She is nothing short of amazing.”
**
01. XYZ 5:37
02. Double Personality 11:57
03. Summer Rain 6:07
04. Joy 8:29
05. 010101 (Binary System) 8:23
06. Truth and Lies 7:20
07. Dancando No Paraiso 7:39
08. Another Mind 8:44
09. The Tom and Jerry Show 6:05
**


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