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Brain

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Album Review

Japanese pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara dazzled the jazz world with her 2003 debut, Another Mind. Its mash of keyboard pyrotechnics and range of compositional styles was multiplied exponentially by her irrepressible energy. On that set she used variously sized ensembles to articulate her compositions. On Brain, Hiromi strips it back to a trio and offers a more intimate look at her wide musical universe, utilizing drummer Martin Valihora, bassist Tony Grey (both fellow Berklee College of Music alums), and alternately bassist Anthony Jackson. The album opens with the wacky "Kung-Fu World Champion" with its mélange of sequenced keyboards. It's a fusion tune to be sure, but it's so kooky and funky that it transcends the label despite its reliance on staggering time signatures and stop-on-air turnarounds and changes. It's a careening tour de force where electronic keyboards and pianos are layered over a scattershot rhythm that pulls and pushes the deep pocket funk and strafes it with a post-bop sensibility. Grey's bassing here is so choice, so utterly fluid and physical. But it's back to jazz on "If..." with Jackson taking the bass chair. It's a strolling soul-jazz figure, bubbling over a series of chromatically arranged ostinati. Its beauty is crystalline despite all the activity. "Wind Song" is a mid-tempo ballad with beautiful ringing lines in the middle register. Its repetitive figure shifts and shapes an alternate melodic line in the solo. The knottiness of the title track offers a close, scrutinizing view of Hiromi's mad muse; using her piano to articulate a figure she creates a warped and angular counterpoint with electronic keyboards keeping the rhythm section striating in between, with precise interstitial motifs before the entire cut gives way to a blessed out of minor key prelude on the piano and her rhythm section dancing around the changes in hushed tones. The centerpiece of the set is a stunningly beautiful tune called "Green Tea Farm." A solo piece, it is pastoral. In sum, Hiromi has built upon her previous effort by stripping down her band and showcasing the less physical but no less ambitious side of her improvisational and compositional flair. Her sound might still be confounding to the purists, but who cares? Hiromi is a jazz pianist for the new century, one whose "yes" to the wealth of musical styles that are available to her is only eclipsed by her ability to work them into a unique whole that bears her signature.

Customer Reviews

Mind-blowing

I've been following Hiromi music for not too long, but I've been awestruck by what I hear. Her music is very unique. I absolutely recommend you to buy this album. Usually I download my music for other places, but after hearing two songs from "Brain", I had to buy it just so I could give Hiromi what she truly deserves.

Outrageously Awesome!

If you are looking for some inspiring playing going back and forth between synths and acoustic piano, get this album. Beautiful both in proficiency and musicality.

i am absolutely amazed

HiRoMi is......aH mAz InG i heard her in baltimore she was soo great and watching her play the piano was so inspiring she deserves to be on the top 100 i think if you have seen her pleaseeee write about what you saw i cannot begin to explain how amazing it is w h o a CoNgRaTs HiRoMi =]

Biography

Born: 1979 in Shizuoka, Japan

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara was born in Shizuoka, Japan, in 1979. At the age of six she started playing piano. Within a year, she was a student of the Yamaha School of Music, whose progressive approach to musical training allowed the young student to shape her technical skills, writing, and performing. After relocating to the United States in 1999, she continued her studies at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, where she received a full scholarship. It was there that Hiromi developed her...
Full Bio
Brain, Hiromi
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