Contemporary Jazz

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Hiromi On Her Own

01 APR 11 JONATHAN WIDRAN

Japan has been on the hearts and in the prayers of everyone around the world since the devastating earthquake and tsunami, and for us jazz fans, this has been a good time to reflect on just how musically advanced and culturally rich the economic powerhouse is. Though piano virtuoso Hiromi has just released Hiromi Solo Live At Blue Note New York (her third overall DVD) on Telarc -- and recently celebrated her 32nd birthday -- the front of her web page has a more sober focus: "Thank you very much for many caring emails for the earthquake in Japan. I am fine but there are so many people who needs (sic) help. Please keep praying for them..."

Music can function as a true healing force in the wake of devastation, and we can enjoy this brilliant Japanese export as a true gift at this difficult time. The dynamic 12-track DVD features a mix of cuts, primarily from her critically acclaimed 2009 solo piano release Place To Be. Her passionate, often lightning quick playing encompasses classical ("Pachelbel's Canon"), pop, avant-garde, traditional jazz and, on "Choux A La Creme," even a touch of ragtime. Balancing the more frenetic pieces (including the high energy "Show City, Show Girl," the buoyant opening to the "Viva! Vegas suite) is the elegant and thoughtful ballad "Green Tea Farm" and the moody "Daytime In Las Vegas."

The camera angles hop as buoyantly as Hiromi's compositions, showing her tickling and tackling the ivories from the front and side and occasionally zeroing in on those impossibly nimble fingers. Hiromi makes full use of her instrument, occasionally reaching into the piano case to pluck strings for exotic sonic and dramatic effect.



Jeff Lorber - Hacienda