ANYONE BETTER? Hiromi: Alive

Once you hear anything by Hiromi, or see her in concert, your first thought will go to the question if anyone out there these days has the chops or creativity as this diminutive Tasmanian devil of a pianist. She’s back in her trio format here, with Anthony Jackson/b and Simon Phillips/dr this time, and once again she displays an uncanny breadth and depth of composition and technical skills. Her influence by the  progressive rock group King Crimson is evident in hard hitting and dramatic pieces such as “Alive” and “Life Goes On” which mix hard driving drumming, kinetic interplay and mind numbing flying fingers on the ivories. She can create a myriad of changing moods as well on once tune all by itself, with “wanderer” going from gentle to bop to hyper-aggressive with the flip of a switch.

She never makes the rapid moments seem glib, however, as the complex “Player” shifts in direction so many times that the entire band has to be completely focused to keep up with each other, while the bold and Return to Forever-influenced “Warrior” is well thought out as well. Hiromi shows her playful side as well, as she toys with a cabaret-sounding “Seeker” and then goes delicate and dainty on the deft solo “Firefly.” If anyone out there can match this lady, let’s set up a contest now-15 rounds, winner take all!

Telarc Records

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