By Diaa Bekheet
Music sometimes prompts you to recall specific events. For example, listening to the formidable Japanese pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara reminds me of a live sunset portrait, with the sun dipping down below the horizon as glimmers of orange light reflect off the sea. That’s the scene I saw while strolling one evening a few years ago in Myrtle Beach, North Carolina. At the time I was listening to “Joy” from Hiromi’s album, Another Mind.
The song also brings to mind images of Myrtle Beach nightlife. At some of the awesome live music venues on the beach, you can hear local indie artists and jazz amateurs play great oldies like, Duke Ellington‘s “Take the A Train”, Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable”, and Michel Lagrand’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris”.
Hiromi’s modern jazz music is outstanding, I absolutely love it. It’s what I often want to listen to because it kicks my mood up a notch. Her songs combine many styles that include a mix of contemporary, jazz fusion, post-bop, and a little bit of classical music. Hiromi’s latest release, Move/Trio Project, features bass guitarist Anthony Jackson who played with Paul Simon and Chick Corea, and drummer Simon Phillips who performed with The Who, David Gilmour, and Jack Bruce.
A mesmerizing instrumentalist in her own right, Hiromi is writing music for Move, too. “There’s so much more to their [the trio] playing. As a composer, I really wanted to write the songs especially for them, and I wanted to extract the unique beauty of their playing,” she explains.
In 2011, Hiromi released a trio recording titled Voice, showcasing nine songs that express a range of human emotions without the aid of a single lyric. “When I play music, I realize that it really filters emotions,” Hiromi says in her official bio. “I called this album Voice because I believe that people’s real voices are expressed in their emotions. It’s not something that you really say. It’s more something that you have in your heart. Maybe it’s something you haven’t said yet. Maybe you’re never going to say it. But it’s your true voice. Instrumental music is very similar. We don’t have any words or any lyrics to go with it. It’s the true voice that we don’t really put into words, but we feel it when it’s real.”
Voice closes with a unique version of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 “Pathetique,” with Anthony Jackson on bass, and Simon Phillips on drums giving it a decidedly jazzy taste, although Hiromi’s piano touches make it feel very much like a film soundtrack.
I’d like to end this post with a duet by Hiromi and jazz piano legend Chick Corea. I’ll bet you will really enjoy their brilliant interplay and communication on this song by Corea titled “Concierto de Aranjuez/Spain”.