It’s been a long time since I’ve posted an entry on my music blog. In fact, lately, it feels as though I say that every time I write a new review. In my defense, the life of a full-time writer can get busy at times, what with all those words one has to clock in every day. My time has been spent finishing my debut novel as well as focusing on my humor writing, like my first ever article in Cracked or pretty much anything I post in Dog Door. Lucky for me, all those hours I spend writing in my office all alone are usually accompanied by music, which brings me to this record by Japanese pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara.
Move was released in 2012 and has the talented Hiromi joining forces with the equally talented contra-bass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips. When I say “equally talented” I know what I’m talking about because Move is a tour de force not only for Hiromi but for the other two musicians as well, but let’s start with the beginning.
In this case, the beginning is the very song that gives the album its name. I’ve talked on this blog before about the importance of a powerful opening track and, from the very first seconds of “Move” we get a sense of what this record is all about: namely showcasing the incredible talent and speed of Hiromi as well as the musical dexterity of her band. From the get-go the track is highly energetic with the fast and furious Hiromi almost violent in her masterful delivery.
The problem with Jazz records that emphasize the speed and technique of the musicians is that they often do that at the expense of melody and the results are not always satisfying. Hiromi just narrowly avoids falling into that trap as she makes use of rhythm and repetition in order to deliver a sample of melody where she fears the songs might be lacking in that respect. Still, even the more “melodious” part of the songs give the feeling that they had been composed slower and then just fast-forwarded to their current state. The result is a sound that feels raw and brave, the mark of a capable composer.
As if to prove that Move is not merely a technique-driven work, the sixth track, “Suite Escapism: Fantasy” offers one of the most hauntingly mellow tunes I’ve heard in a long time, one that I couldn’t get out of my head for days (that hasn’t happened since Jason Domnarski’s G-Unit) Aside from the aforementioned track which is part two of the three-part “Suite Escapism” series which constitutes the “heart” of the record, all the others are fast, powerful and, at times, obsessive feats of piano-playing sparkled with some equally agitated bass and drums. Always a sign of a powerful band, the other members get their own opportunities to shine (see especially Simon Phillips on “Suite Escapism: Reality” and Anthony Jackson on Margarita). Together the “Trio Project” manage to produce a roller-coaster ride of hardcore Jazz with elements of funk, rock, and fusion and, at times, even a bit of a Latin vibe.
It is only in the hands of gifted musicians that a record such as this never once comes off as tiring and the strong and sometimes aggressive piano-Jazz compositions can be savored with the ease with which one could enjoy an Erik Satie composition. That is not to say that the record could not use a bit more “soul” (and I don’t mean the music genre) but overall it comes very highly recommended. After the graceful final track ends (I’m talking about “11:49” which is brilliant as a closing track because it leaves you craving for more) and after having basked in Hiromi’s talent as a “fast” pianist I guarantee the very next thing you will do is seek out more of her work. I should know, since I’m currently halfway through her 2011 release, Voice.