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Place to Be

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Album Review

Jazz critic Gary Giddins once described early bebop as music that was "giddy with its own virtuosity." A variety of different things came after that period of giddiness — the introspection of cool jazz, the deep-thinking spirituality of modal post-bop and avant-garde jazz, the rock-influenced intensity of fusion — but bebop and hard bop did, in fact, have more than their share of performances that thrived on both giddiness and virtuosity. Post-bop, even at its most optimistic and exuberant, is seldom described as flat-out giddy, but giddiness definitely characterizes much of Hiromi's acoustic post-bop pianism on Place to Be (which finds the Japanese improviser playing unaccompanied solo piano). On this 2009 recording, Hiromi often sounds like she is, to borrow Giddins' phrase, giddy with her own virtuosity. But she isn't giddy in a bebop/hard bop way. This is essentially post-bop, although Hiromi incorporates elements of everything from European classical music to stride piano and ragtime. She even quotes Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" on "Show City, Show Girl," but Place to Be — unlike some of Hiromi's other albums — never really ventures into fusion territory. And even though Place to Be has its reflective moments ("Somewhere" and "Daytime in Las Vegas," for example), Hiromi's playful, capricious exuberance prevails on many of the selections. She can be cerebral, but she isn't cerebral in an elitist, exclusionary way; instead, she gives the impression that her virtuosity is giving her a great deal of elation, and she sincerely wants to share that elation with the listener. As it turns out, playing unaccompanied is perfect for Hiromi; the acoustic solo-piano format gives her plenty of room to explore her creative impulses. Hiromi can be quite self-indulgent at times, but she is never self-indulgent in a bad way — and the lack of accompaniment yields excellent results for her on Place to Be.

Customer Reviews

Love it

This album is a trip! Being a long time Hiromi fan, I have to say that Place To Be is one worthy of the collection. This album features Hiromi performing solo pieces on a (mostly) acoustic piano. But don't be fooled, even though this album lacks the electrical components and drums featured in her previous albums, it has just as much power and energy as the rest. Highly recommended!


Anyone who listens to Hiromi expected this album. All great Jazz pianists, of which Hiromi is certainly earning that title, eventually venture out to do a solo album. After the Duet with Chick Corea I think that we all kind of saw this album on the horizon. It is a very beautiful album in which Hiromi shows here creativity, genious, and virtuosity. With all that said I really don't feel like this is as much of a progression in her music as we have seen with all of her previous albums. And while this album is quite beautiful, and I am sure that I will listen to it very frequently, I hear a lot of her previous music in the songs that she plays here. So I think that this is a good album and the only reason that I think that it doesn't desrev 5 starts is because by the very end I still felt like I wanted to hear something more, something new. With the time that Hiromi spent with Chick, Stanley Clark, and Lenny White I was expecting the same jump in evolution of Hirmoi's music that I have become so accustomed to; but I just don't hear it.


hiromi's technique is flawless but other than that, her music comes up short, really short. she plays a lot of notes and does a lot of gimmicky stuff that people really like but her music doesnt evoke any emotion. she is an artist who has perfected the technical side of music but has failed to bring anything else to the table.


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
Place to Be, Hiromi
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Customer Ratings