Album title: Place to be
Performer: Hiromi Uehara
Label: Telarc
Playing time: 65'08"
Recorded: New York - March 2009

This is the first solo album by pianist Hiromi Uehara and it features all original compositions penned by the artist. This outing represents another great showcase filled with incredible speed phrasing, volatile dynamics but more than ever before also elegance and romance. Hiromi found her voice quite early in her young career and this album—obviously more intimate than previous ones—delivers her usual feline virtuosity of fingers flying across the piano keys. Place to be was written as a collection of short stories about various journeys.

Before anything else, one must stress that these are truly composed works which suggest a new high point of real maturity for the Japanese pianist. Some tracks of course do remind us of her chief influences as though the keyboard memorized her fingerprints indelibly as a signature mix of fusion jazz, Asian airs and a touch of modernity. Following her trio recording with Stanley Clarke, she now pursued a difficult solo performance and I was frankly reminded of Corea’s famous Matrix. I do believe that Hiromi's latest is comparable in pianistic execution and compositional quality without the shadow of a doubt. What impressed me most about it is how she controlled her own energy. She can play furiously for extensive stretches as her trio outing's choice of Don Pullen underlined but here always maintains the cat 'n' mouse attitude which made her famous in the Tom & Jerry show. It requires great talent to solo a set of new compositions. Rather more often, talented pianists first staking their claim rely on proven Jazz standards to limit the considerable risks of failure which a solo debut invites. Clearly Hiromi has matured sufficiently and timed this finely to meet this risk head on. Place to be is an uncommon achievement that demands a rousing salute for the impressive performance of this young lady.