"Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” is pure Asian drama, the dialogue between piano and guitar efficient. Uehara and Fiuczynski are clearly a few steps ahead over Time Control's level of performance. The back beat of bass and drums perfectly serve the two leaders' game. Debussy's “Clair de Lune” defies any attempts at categorizing the band. “No limits” is the buzz phrase of the Sonicbloomers. Hiromi's rendition of “Caravan” is absolutely amazing in its modernity and rhythm, a slight of hand between madness and enjoyment. It seems perfectly sensible to hear it this way now as it made sense to play the original orchestration in the fifties. Perhaps Duke Ellington would have played Hiromi's rendition today himself?
"Ue Wo Muite Aruko" (known in the US as “Sukiyaki”) is the only Japanese Pop song to have successfully migrated to the American charts in the early 60s. Uehara takes this still popular song and turns it into a swinging funk mix. On “My favorite things”, she demonstrates her ability to capture the essence of Jazz standards and hones in straight to the jugular of the thematic. It reminds me of Chick Corea playing “Autumn Leaves” with his Akoustic Band. Listening to that CD while seated in front of my piano, I was unable to play a single note. The musical score no longer made sense..
Paying homage to the legendary Jeff Beck, Sonicbloom covers "Led Boots" with deep involvement in the perfect Jazz/Rock idiom.
Considering the staff on stage hot enough, Hiromi's follows with a standard of her own, "XYZ" rebadged "XYG" for the occasion (and perhaps to underline the active role of guitar). Punk or Avantgarde? Or perhaps a daring hybrid? The journey finishes with a superb and fast take of “I've got rhythm” and finally puts an end to this fantastic one-hour delight with an emotive glance at Oscar Peterson.
Hiromi's performance evokes a Japanese way of perfectionism. When she plays, she always questions how it can be improved. Someone said “Hiromi's Sonicbloom is a shot of adrenalin for tired musical tastes” and no doubt it is. A few Jazz artists continue to explore new directions and sounds and surely Hiromi is one of them. Considering music a living material that's genetically enriched by a composer's contributing genius, Hiromi brings new blood to Jazz with ever more radiant and innovative musical pieces.
The energetic live performance of Sonicbloom's pianist exceeds all previous limits.
The virtuoso technique of the late Don Pullen was really impressive but with Hiromi Uehara, one quickly runs out of superlatives. When Chick Corea toured with old partners in the new revival of Return to Forever, the legendary master did not surpass what Hiromi delivers today under Sonicbloom. To illustrate the huge quantity of energy spent by the pianist on the live stage, I could tell you that during one of her first performances in Paris, she had some technical problems during the short but intense performance. The technical staff of the Parisian Jazz club “Le Duc des Lombards” was not prepared for the performer's wildness and did not pay sufficient attention to the keyboards' racks. You saw above what finally happened during that night...
For this perfect achievement combining musical diversity and sheer joy of playing, I present my first Blue Moon Award. For Japanese imports addicts, I should add that the Japanese edition includes the Japan-only bonus track "Return Of Kung-fu World Champion" which was recorded live in December 2007 at the International Forum. I should also test the SACD multi channel format layer which should be tremendous but haven't done so yet...