Hiromi's Sonicbloom: Beyond Standard (Remastered) Hiromi
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- 1Intro: Softly As In A Morning Sunrise00:28
- 2Softly As In A Morning Sunrise07:29
- 3Clair De Lune07:25
- 5Ue Wo Muite Aruko08:41
- 6My Favorite Things07:46
- 7Led Boots06:33
- 9I've Got Rhythm05:51
Info for Hiromi's Sonicbloom: Beyond Standard (Remastered)
Hiromi’s supergroup, Sonicbloom, crafts a melting pot of jazz, classical, fusion, standards and even a traditional Japanese tune.
Hiromi’s supergroup, Sonicbloom, has shattered the formula of making records written solely by the celebrated pianist / composer. Their latest outing, Beyond Standard finds Tony Grey (bass), Martin Valihora (drums), and Dave “Fuze” Fiuczynski (guitar and otherworldly sounds) assisting Hiromi in crafting unique versions of familiar tunes such as Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” and even Jeff Beck’s “Led Boots.”
The group has been recognized for its energetic virtuosity by music industry and mainstream publications alike: Downbeat, JazzTimes, Keyboard, and The New York Times. Playing festivals such as Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, and Playboy Jazz proves that Hiromi’s unique fusion nuevo has been accepted in the world of jazz as well as rock. Beyond Standard is a showcase for Hiromi and her band’s abilities, with each player getting plenty of room to shine.
While most of the music on the album was penned by songwriters other than Hiromi, the album as a whole is a continuation of her previous release, Time Control (2007). Beyond Standard starts with a quick “Intro” that includes the popping and scratching sounds of a vinyl record, a signal that what you are about to hear are retro compositions performed in an updated and unique way. The music starts with an extension of her original tune, “Time’s Up,” the final track on Time Control. Hiromi then gives a dramatic voicing to the theme of “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise.” As the tune progresses, she and Fiuczynski trade some very playful fours, and Valihora takes a fresh approach, occasionally giving a backbeat to the jazz standard.
In keeping with her defiance of easy categorization, Hiromi then covers Debussy’s eternally beloved “Claire de Lune,” followed by the driving jazz standard, “Caravan,” written by Juan Tizol and made famous by Duke Ellington. Hiromi’s rendition has an almost Zappa-esque feel with a heart-pumping drum solo.
Hiromi and company deliver a unique rendition of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things,” a song from The Sound of Music that later became standard jazz repertoire thanks to John Coltrane. In a complete 180, the band follows Rodgers & Hammerstein with a cover of legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck’s “Led Boots,” featuring keyboard work from Hirmoi that sounds very much like the whah-whah effect on an electric guitar.
“Ue Wo Muite Aruko” (“I Look Up When I Walk”) was the only Japanese pop song to make it to No. 1 on the American pop charts. The song was released in Japan in 1961 and in the United States in 1963. Hiromi takes the still popular song and turns it into a funky explosion.
“XYG” is Hiromi covering Hiromi. The track is an in-your-face adaptation of “XYZ,” a track from her 2003 debut album, Another Mind, with the addition of Fiuczynski’s roaring guitar (hence the “G”). The album closes with Hiromi on solo piano, putting her spice on the Gershwin classic, “I Got Rhythm.” She begins the tune with a playful, delicate touch that builds to landslide intensity with bone-breaking riffs.
Mentored by giants like Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal and Chick Corea, Hiromi’s roots are in jazz but her music explores a world of new ideas by blurring the boundaries of pop, rock, classical, avant-garde and other genres.
Born in Shizuoka, Japan, in 1979, Hiromi discovered jazz when she took up the piano at age six. Within a year, she was a student of the Yamaha School of Music, whose progressive approach to musical training allowed the young student to tap into her emotions while mastering the technical aspects of writing and performing. At age 14, she went to Czechoslovakia and played with the Czech Philharmonic. Three years later, Corea invited her to perform with him. In 1999, Hiromi came to the United States to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Hiromi established her reputation when her 2003 Telarc debut, Another Mind – co-produced by Ahmad Jamal – shipped gold in Japan (100, 000 units) and won the Recording Industry Association of Japan’s (RIAJ) Jazz Album of the Year Award.
Her 2004 release, Brain, won the Horizon Award at the 2004 Surround Music Awards, Swing Journal’s New Star Award, Jazz Life’s Gold Album, HMV Japan’s Best Japanese Jazz Album, and the Japan Music Pen Club’s Japanese Artist Award (the JMPC is a classical / jazz journalists club). Brain was also named Album of the Year in Swing Journal’s 2005 Readers Poll. Back in the U. S., Hiromi has been featured on the covers of Keyboard, Jazziz, Billboard, All About Jazz-LA and Goldmine.
In 2006, Hiromi won Best Jazz Act at the Boston Music Awards and the Guinness Jazz Festival’s Rising Star Award. She also claimed Jazzman of the Year, Pianist of the Year and Album of the Year in Swing Journal Japan’s Jazz Readers Poll for her 2006 release, Spiral.
Beyond Standard is what happens when Hiromi’s Sonicbloom takes popular tunes out of the box and casts them in an entirely new light.
Hiromi Uehara, piano
David Fiuczynski, guitar, fretless guitar
Tony Grey, bass
Martin Valihora, drums
Born in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan on March 26, 1979, Hiromi’s piano lesson’s started when she was six, and she performed her first recital at that age. Her first teacher, Noriko Hikida, encouraged her to access both the intuitive and technical aspects of music. “Her energy was always so high, and she was so emotional,” Hiromi says of Hikida. “When she wanted me to play with a certain kind of dynamics, she wouldn’t say it with technical terms. If the piece was something passionate, she would say, ‘Play red.’ Or if it was something mellow, she would say, ‘Play blue.’ I could really play from my heart that way, and not just from my ears.”
Hikida also exposed Hiromi to jazz and introduced her to the great pianist Errol Garner and Oscar Peterson. She enrolled in the Yamaha School of Music at age six, and started to write music at same time.
Hiromi moved to the United States in 1999, and matriculated at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, which extended her artistic sensibilities. “It expanded so much the way I see music,” she says. “Some people dig jazz, some people dig classical music, some people dig rock. Everyone is so concerned about who they like. They always say, ‘This guy is the best,’ ‘No, this guy is the best.’ But I think everyone is great. I really don’t have barriers to any type of music. I could listen to everything from metal to classical music to anything else.”
Among her mentors at Berklee was the veteran jazz bassist/arranger Richard Evans, who teaches arranging and orchestration. It was Evans who took Hiromi’s demo tape to his friend and collaborator: the legendary pianist/bandleader Ahmad Jamal. “[Professor Evans] really liked how I played,” Hiromi fondly recalled. “And Ahmad loved the demo – I couldn’t believe it! He’s been very encouraging and supportive. He’s an amazing human being.”
Evans co-produced her debut CD, Another Mind, with Jamal, who has also taken a personal interest in Hiromi’s artistic development. “She is nothing short of amazing,” says Jamal. “Her music, together with her overwhelming charm and spirit, causes her to soar to unimaginable musical heights.” Another Mind was a critical success in North America, and in her native Japan, where the album shipped gold (100,000 units) and received the Recording Industry Association of Japan’s (RIAJ) Jazz Album of the Year Award. Hiromi’s astonishing debut was but a forecast of the shape of jazz to come.
Her second release, Brain, won the Horizon Award at the 2004 Surround Music Awards, Swing Journal’s New Star Award, Jazz Life’s Gold Album, HMV Japan’s Best Japanese Jazz Album, and the Japan Music Pen Club’s Japanese Artist Award (the JMPC is a classical/jazz journalists club). The CD was also named Album of the Year in Swing Journal’s 2005 Readers Poll. In 2006, Hiromi won Best Jazz Act at the Boston Music Awards and the Guinness Jazz Festival’s Rising Star Award. She also claimed Jazzman of the Year, Pianist of the Year and Album of the Year in Swing Journal Japan’s Readers Poll for her 2006 release, Spiral. Hiromi’s winning streak continued with the release of Time Control in 2007 and Beyond Standard in 2008. Both releases featured Sonicbloom: her hand-picked group that included guitarist Dave “Fuze” Fiuczynski, bassist Tony Grey and drummer Martin Valihora.
Hiromi achieved a number of milestones in 2009. She recorded with pianist Chick Corea – who she met in Japan when she was seventeen – on Duet, a two-disc live recording of their transcendent, trans-generational and transcultural duo concert in Tokyo. She also appeared on bassist Stanley Clarke’s Heads Up International release, Jazz in the Garden, which also featured former Chick Corea bandmate, drummer Lenny White.
In June of that same year, Hiromi simultaneously released two concert DVDs, both recorded in Tokyo: Hiromi Live in Concert (recorded in December 2005) and Hiromi’s Sonicbloom Live in Concert (recorded in December 2007). The former features the rhythm section of Grey and Valihora, while the latter includes Fiuczynski’s incendiary fretwork.
In 2010, Hiromi released A Place To Be, and impressive and intimate solo piano CD; her evocative aural travelogue of the many places and spaces she visited around the world. “I wanted to record the sound of my twenties for archival purposes,” she says. “I felt like the people whom I met on the road during my twenties really helped me develop and mature as a musician and as a person. So in addition to making a record that represented all of these places that have inspired my music, I also wanted it to be a thank-you to those people.”
She followed up A Place To Be with a DVD, Hiromi Solo Live at Blue Note New York. Recorded on August 20 and 21, 2010, at the Blue Note in New York City, the video includes 11 originals and a special bonus feature with interview clips and performance footage from some of Hiromi’s favorite cities around the world.
On her 2011 album, Voice, Hiromi’s goal was to capture people’s “inner voices” to create what she called a “three-dimensional sound.” On that album, she assembled a trio that included herself and two veteran players; contra-bass guitarist Anthony Jackson (Paul Simon, The O’Jays, Steely Dan, and Chick Corea) and drummer Simon Phillips (Toto, The Who, Judas Priest, David Gilmour, Jack Bruce). While Hiromi had played with Jackson prior to recording Voice, she had never recorded an entire album with either him or Phillips, who had been recommended to her by legendary bassist Stanley Clarke, a mutual acquaintance.
Also in 2011, The Stanley Clarke Band CD featuring Hiromi won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.
While on the road, Hiromi started writing music for the follow-up CD, Move, released in 2013. “Because I had been playing with Anthony and Simon for quite a bit, I just started to understand their characteristics, and I could find a hidden gem in their playing,” she explains. “There’s so much more to their 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.” Move, like Voice, had an overriding theme, which Hiromi describes as “time in one day.” “You wake up and go to work and then hang out,” she says. “The album is like a soundtrack for a day.” That same year, she had several impressive placements in DownBeat magazine’s 61st Annual International Critics Poll, in the Jazz Artist, Piano, Keyboard, and Rising Star: Piano categories. Also, in 2013, she performed at George Wein’s Newport Jazz Festival, and will perform there for the festival’s sixtieth anniversary in 2014.
Alive, was her ninth album as a leader in Hiromi’s ever-evolving musical life. “I’m hungry to learn,” she told DownBeat magazine, “so I’ll always my big ears open fully, ready to learn every single minute that I play.”
Her latest ablum "Live in Montreal" is a duet featuring Edmar Castaneda, released in 2017.
After a successful World Tour with the duo, Hiromi will return 2019 with a new Solo Album. Only a handful of pianists are able to fill concert Halls as a Solo Artist and Hiromi is one of them!
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