Friday, 29 June 2018

Hiromi “Another Mind"2003 Japan Jazz Fusion


Hiromi “Another Mind"2003 Japan Jazz Fusion 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=155&v=BXhhyD1hs_4

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https://vimeo.com/150458179

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https://open.spotify.com/album/3icv4BC45cfT3pdnzEMPPX


Instrumental virtuosity in jazz is a bit like athletic prowess; there are those coming up through the ranks who can break previous records with ease. As Roger Bannister’s four minute mile is a distant memory, so the dexterity of past jazz masters is threatened daily by young turks posessed of more licks than a hyperactive Labrador. And here’s another one… 

Surrounding herself with a cast of young, gifted musicians (and a slightly older one in the shape of the great bassist Anthony Jackson), 24 year old Hiromi Uehara’s music is audacious, hyperactive stuff. Sticking mainly to acoustic piano, her approach is reminiscent of Oscar Peterson on steroids. Few of the instrument’s 88 keys remain untouched for long. 

Things kick off with "XYZ”, which announces itself with a count-in that the Ramones would be proud of. Immediately the leader dispels any notions that this is like any piano trio you might have heard before with a fiercelypercussive barrage of notes, delivered over a joyful thrash/fusion hybrid. 

The energy level is pretty full on throughout as the players negotiate tricky time signatures, undertaken at fingerbreaking speeds.For about half the album, Hiromi’s compositional sense and the crisply delivered pyrotechnics of her partners (particularly drummer Dave DiCenso)manage to keep proceedingsfromdescending into amerely technical exercise, but there are some exceptions. 

“Double Personality” (one of three tracks straying from the trio format) sounds like it was pumped full of steroids and loaded with fusion cliches before being unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Jim Odgren’s alto is too much in thrall to Dave Sanborn to offer anything much and Dave Fuczyinski’s guitar pyrotechnics are grim in the extreme. Yuk. 

After this eleven minute earbashing, Odgren'sshiny tonesteers “Summer Rain” towards smooth jazz territory and all seems lost.However, things take a turn for the better with the cryptic, synth driven funk of “010101 (binary system)”. Anthony Jackson’s low, warm growl works a treat here, and the remainder of the album offers a more coherentview of Hiromi’s musical vision. Ultimately if you’re like me, you might find yourself more in more in awe of the players technical audacity than anything else, but there’s no doubt that Hiromi’s is a name to watch…..Peter Marsh…BBC review….~

Another Mind begins a trio of fantastic albums by Hiromi and her crew. “Another Mind” “Brain” and “Spiral” mix traditional virtuosity with a synthesizer edge at times. Lots of texture, loads of brilliance. I feel like Hiromi is just showing off some of the time, but it’s charming rather than gratuitous. Brilliant drums and bass are a treat….by…Chris…..~


This is one of those albums that has you jumping out of your seat it’s so good. The best part is that is was recorded live, NO OVERDUBS! This speaks GREAT lengths of the musicianship involved. The rhythm section pieces are incredibly tight. Dave DiCenso does an awesome job on the kit, and Mitch Cohn is, as always, a master of his instrument. Anthony Jackson also makes an appearance on 3 of the tracks. 
The first track, “XYZ”, you hear a quick count off and then the song kicks into gear. The next track, “Double Personality” starts off with a wicked fast piano riff, then quietly builds into a full out jam, with really tight ensemble hits & drum fills at the beginning. “Summer Rain” is a bit more laid back that the first two burners, but no less tight, and WAY funkier. “Joy,” the first track Anthony Jackson appears on, is a more ballad-like tune, with a rubato piano intro, but after a while Anthony takes a solo and really opens things up with that 6-string bass of his. “010101 (Binary System)” opens with a very odd synth riff, but adds Anthony with a very funky bass line. After a little while Hiromi switches to acoustic piano and plays a little straight-ahead jazz, Anthony walks, DiCenso swings, and then it goes back to the funky synth. After all this craziness, “Truth and Lies” brings things down a notch, with a dark, moody piano line and the return of Mitch Cohn to the bass seat. His fluid fretless work supports Hiromi’s powerful chords & add so much to it. Hiromi’s solo is extremely delicate, barely there, showing great control over dynamics. “Dancando No Paraiso,” the last track Anthony Jackson plays on, is another burner, but in a more straight-ahead postbop style. It eventually breaks down a bit & goes through a pretty bridge/interlude section, then picks right back up again. “Another Mind” brings Mitch Cohn back, and begins with a deep, thundering piano intro, then kicks in with a piano/bass ensemble line. Hiromi fills it up, and it ostinatos from there. “The Tom and Jerry Show,” the last track and featuring Hiromi on solo piano, immediately summons images of the cartoon cat & mouse duo chasing each other willy-nillly with it’s quick lines and slightly ragtime sound. After about 3 minutes of craziness, she slows it down to a ballad tempo and really shows off. A true showcase of technical ability, Hiromi has a very bright future ahead of her if she continues to create music like this…..by….Jeff Byrnes….~

This is the artist for whom I have awaited a very long time. Hiromi has brought something exciting and fresh to a type of music that has ossified itself into near irrelevance. Jazz, like classical music before it has been abducted by self appointed musical necrophiliacs proclaiming that the art form 
must conform to some rigid 16 bar dogma. 

Another Mind was a relevation, and when I discovered that she 
would be playing a nearby venue recently, I did not hesitate to 
go see her. Her technique is flawless, her playing, highly nuanced. At times her hands moved with such superhuman speed that they became a mere blur, but the music that flowed through them could not have been more crystalline. There is so much youthful vigor and playfulness to her musicianship that it probably scares the bejesus out of the stewed prun crowd. 

Each track of “Another Mind” is a gem - starting with a Keith Emerson-ish “XYZ” that even old Speedy himself would be hard pressed to match in it’s full throttle energy. The tracks that follow do not disappoint either, exploring a wide range of 
styles, including some funky synth work, Blues, Impressionism, ‘60s San Fransisco, Fusion, Gothic, and even a bit of Art Tatum at the end. 

Throughout all there is a strong sense of arch. It’s the elegant parabola with which she structures her music and shapes her improvisation which quite distinquishes her playing from the typical trio playing yet again another cover of Autumn Leaves. (I.E. the formulaic - Everyone play the melody of this tired old song everyone else has already played to death, piano solo, bass solo, okay now drums, some fours, play melody again…now rinse and spit.) 

That the bold new path Hiromi has set for herself and 
her excellent fellow musicians upsets some of the vinylphile dinosaurs is not a suprise. That’s the nature of a new 
paradigm. 
Keep playing your heart (and mind) out Hiromi…By John Carroll……~


“Another Mind” is the debut album of a young Japanese lady who will blow your minds away. Do not be mistaken by the low budget, new-age like cover of the CD: Another Mind is an amazing album that trully breaks barriers and boundaries between styles with intelligence and elegance. 
This music is not only energetic and entertaining, it really is in my opinion a deeply sophisticated and original artistic vision. Hiromi has a lot to say…And she says it loud. Maybe too loud, disturbingly loud considering the very contrasting reviews posted bellow. Just like any artist who has a strong and personal voice, Hiromi seems to be either trashed or adored. 
Hiromi is simply brilliant, and in my view, she already belongs to the Hall of Fame of Jazz Piano legends….By Joel Dunn…..~

The insert photo recalls the sort of image used selling Midori, young Japanese lady fetchingly got up and looking enraptured. This seems like a joke when the CD starts playing. The name that comes to mind is tsunami, or some other earthquake and volcano jargon term. Quite simply, I’ve heard no more powerful jazz pianist than Hiromi Uehara. Current competition includes the Russian Simon Nabatov (the Slavonic Jaki Byard) as well as Brad Mehldau (I’ve not heard of Bobby Enriquez in some time, but her fingers punch as hard as his fists and elbows). 

As in Enriquez’ case, the virtuosity is at times delivered with nearly violent drive and swing, a huge relief after a succession of listening experiences in which these qualities were missing. This is not smooth jazz (from which may the gods preserve us!), though it doesn’t lack finish. The material might also be of this 23-year-old Japanese’s composing, I recognise no titles other than “XYZ”, and the storming exercise in intensity-building which bears that name isn’t its Earl Hines namesake. It ought to carry a warning, this big bang and cyclone beginning to a debut CD. 

The programme is for the most part contemporary in focus, the trio augmented on the second and third tracks, the near 12 minutes of “Double Personality” with Jim Odgren on a not objectionably trendily funky alto, and Dave Fiuczynski’s guitar yowling as if he wanted to demonstrate what sissies these stock rock musicians are. When everybody else drops out on this variously paced tour de force, the pianist has moments of Prokofiev and Lenny Tristano (briefly visiting a Baptist church) and demonstrations of an ability to play with immense subtlety, quietly. Her statement in the flier that she doesn’t know what her music could be called mentions classical and rock and jazz, but since the ham in that sandwich is an offspring of jazz, and European concert music is among of jazz’s grandparents and cousins, I’d suppose she’s referring to an excessively narrowed conception of the music – a longtime phenomenon created by publicists on behalf of this and that succession of new things, pandering to the narrow minds of successive younger generations until the whole business became attenuated. 

Suffice it to say that Hiromi doesn’t have a narrow mind, and that if she (as per the flier’s heading) “Takes jazz to a new place”, it’s really only a place new to far too many. After the funky saxophone quartet on “Summer Rain”, the following “Joy” is fairly conservative stuff hardly remote from what, say, John Hicks might play, a comparison which has to recognise what a great player Hicks is. 

“010101 (binary system)” utilises an electronic spinet or something of the sort, alternating between its keyboard and the piano heard elsewhere. I’ve no doubt she could have produced something equally effective on merely piano, but perhaps there’s some kind of appeal being made to rock fans (instead of the 1940s composition “From Dixieland to Bebop” this might be “From Disco to Music and Back – and Forth”, at least according to the more conservative listener). “Truth and Lies” is more on the lines of “Joy” and “Dancando no Paraiso” thrills especially where Hiromi’s signally accomplished potent left hand deepens the overall timbre of a performance which moves in and out of Hispanic and gospel cum Horace Silver Quintet modes. In most of the nine performances, there is at least one tempo change and back, the average length being somewhere around seven minutes. She is not short on variety within a consistent unity of style. 

The title track “Another Mind” opens like the crack of doom with a powerful left-hand figure and filigree right hand. Interplay with bass or drums or both emphasises the orchestral feel, and sometimes she plays like a band, sometimes even a contrapuntalist/one-woman duettist with one hand playing off against the other, and with startling entries. At times, there’s also close combination with Dave Di Censo’s (it would have to be!) powerhouse drumming. Quite where Anthony Jackson guests on bass I cannot say, he is listed along with her usual bassist Mitch Cohn, but the textures are too complex to work out in the absence – Telarc please note – of full details I hope the issued CD prints. Jackson is credited with saying he’s played with some of the best and that Hiromi at 23 years hardly falls short of them. Not quite on the strength of this CD, but I’d not rule out the suggestion that his assertion’s merely premature. (It’s also presumably misstated here, where his words as printed are “I’ve worked with quite a few of … the greatest players that I’ve ever worked with”, but I can understand excitement over Hiromi’s music generating that sort of muddle). 

It’s annoying that the final track’s described as “bonus” – how does one not qualify for it? I very much want it, but dislike its being entitled “The Tom and Jerry Show”. Really, musicians ought to lose the adolescent snob superstition Jaki Byard never suffered from, that somehow elements of style current circa 1930 demand patronising or jokiness. This ill-titled wholly piano solo closer is in three sections, fast, slow, fast, and opens with a kind of ragtime into stomping gospel style Mary Lou Williams (ask Dave Douglas) presumably picked up in her native Pittsburg and featured now and then throughout a lengthy and various playing career. Nobody else did quite that sort of thing, or modulated into a style modern in the 1980s, and went into New York stride mode in racing to a two-handed closer. Fie on sham sophistication, and more power to a most accomplished young virtuoso innocent of it in her playing – and liable to improve on currently being a justified focus of dread and horror among ambitious would-be competitors. Wow! Phew!…by…Robert R. Calder…pop matters….~


There are two types of piano playing: the first one is a melodic style almost like a string instrument featured by musicians like Rick Wakeman (since the piano is essentially a string instrument) and a percussive one of people like Keith Emerson, Patrick Moraz, Chick Corea and Hiromi Uehara (the piano works through a mechanism of hammers hitting the strings). This album is a clear display of how to treat the piano as a percussive instrument. 123!!!…that’s the way this album gets started like an explosion with the powerful XYZ, in which Hiromi and her band, in a trio format, shows what they are made of and it is the greatest expression of Hiromi’s Rockier side… Double Personality follows with the same rocky mood in the best Weather Report tradition with the addition of a great (at times weird) guitar solo by guest Dave Fiuczynski, who is more of a rocker than Hiromi. Fiuczynski adds to the piece a more experimental ambience, while Hiromi alternates between styles you can be thinking of Keith Emerson and a second after that you sudenly hear yourself saying Wait a second…isn’t that Chick Corea playing?!!!!. (despite of some other references the main influence present on the album comes from jazz and fusion) 
XYZ and Double Personality are pieces that easily could be included in a Weather Report, Blue Oyster, Return to Forever, or even in a Keith Emerson album. 

With Summer Rain Hiromi goes for a jazzier feeling with the help of guest Jim Odgren in the alto saxophone but it is still very rocky (especially compared to her later work), heavily influenced by Chick Corea. 

Joy gets started with what would define Hiromi’s sound in the future, again in a trio format, a jazzier fusion variation (aprox. 65% jazz - 35% rock) with a great soud that, at moments, reminds of Corea and Ahmad Jamal(who, by the way, produced the record). 

010101 (Binary System) features with some weird combinations of an acoustic piano and some synthesized sounds, but with an even jazzier sound (+1% of jazz). 

4% jazzier, Truth and Lies is the first track to feature a 100% acoustic keyboard setting (the only electric instrument here is the bass). A nice tune which shows why Hiromi is the new generation’s Chick Corea (being a big fan of Chick’s, this is something that I wouldn’t say lightly). 

Dancando No Paraiso (the brazilian-portuguese name is probably due to the latin flavor of the piece) this is the definitive confirmation of Chick Corea’s influence on Hiromi’s music, being the blend of latin and fusion sounds his trademark. 

The title track and last official one is the most melodic tune and features a beuatiful and well written piece of music showing the talent of Hiromi as a formal musician (not just an improvisation genious). 

And finaly…the piece that impressed Oscar Peterson, The Tom And Jerry Show (presented as a bonus track), featuring Hiromi and her piano without rhythm section or any other accompanying instrument. The Tom and Jerry Show is almost a jazz standard, it shows Hiromi and just Hiromi displaying her amazing talent. 

This is a great debut album (and my favorite yet) by Chick Corea’s and Ahmad Jamal’s great discovery, Hiromi Uehara… 

This album goes from the 55% rock - 45% jazz crazy jam of XYZ and Double Personality to the 95% jazz of The Tom and Jerry Show…featuring the amazing talent of Hiromi supported by one of the greatest rhythm sections that i’ve ever heard (congrats to Cohn and DiCenso). 
4.35 almost a masterpiece…. by ProgressiveAttic …..~


This album is very good. A great debut from Hiromi. Though there is more piano than keyboards here than say, Time Control, this is still a worthy addition to anyone who enjoys Classic Fusion, especially the kind from the 2000s. 
Things start right off with XYZ, a very fast paced number, with some nice odd time signature riffs (one in 9/8 if I’m not mistaken) This leads into some very nice piano work by Hiromi; she is probably one of the fastest pianists you will ever hear. 

The second track Double Personality features some nice sax work by Jim Odgren, something not heard much on Hiromi’s albums. The thing I like about this album is the approach to fusion, not relying on keyboards and their effects, but using them sparingly and relying on the naked piano, but you don’t even think of this when listening, just “This is great jazz/fusion music!” 

Dave “Fuze” Fiuczynski also appears on this album as a guest. He would later join Hiromi’s Sonicbloom for the albums “Time Control” and “Beyond Standard”. Dave’s wild guitar playing throws some of the music back to the 70s fusion sound, but since he usually plays a fretless guitar, it gives it a more modern twist, with Hiromi and bassist Mitch Cohn going crazy behind him. 

There are also some wacky keyboard grooves which sometimes make you feel like you’re inside a computer, but this album contains some of Hiromi’s more beautiful compositions (which she would expand on, on her follow-up “Brain”) 

Get this if you have any interest in jazz, fusion, modern prog-jazz, etc… This is a nice slice of 2000’s fusion. Not as good as Time Control (her best album IMO) but an excellent release nonetheless. Enjoy!…by darkshade …..~


Line-up / Musicians 
- Hiromi Uehara / piano, keyboards (5) 
- Mitch Cohn / bass 
- Dave DiCenso / drums 

With: 
- David Fiuczynski / guitar (2) 
- Jim Odgren / alto saxophone (2,3) 
- Anthony Jackson / bass (4,5,7)


Tracklist 
1 XYZ 5:37 
2 Double Personality 11:57 
3 Summer Rain 6:07 
4 Joy 8:29 
5 010101 (Binary System) 8:23 
6 Truth And Lies 7:19 
7 Dancando No Paraiso 7:37 
8 Another Mind 8:43 
9 The Tom And Jerry Show (Bonus Track) 6:06 

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