A native of the same country as the beloved Keiko Matsui, Hiromi has a style that’s quite different from that of the smooth jazz virtuoso, somewhat severe in its rock component, yet quite interpretative in much of its jazz-rooted ventures.
Born in Japan, playing since age six, and currently a student at Berklee School of Music in Boston, Hiromi already has a few other albums under her belt (Another Mind, Brain, and Spiral). Mentored by such keyboard icons as Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, and Chick Corea, she is often believed to have turned jazz tradition on its head and plunges into a universe of new ideas.
The young lady states, "I don’t want to put a name on my music. Other people can put a name on what I do. It’s just the union of what I’ve been listening to and what I’ve been learning. It has some elements of classical music, it has some rock, it has some jazz, but I don’t want to give it a name." She goes on to say, "When I write music, I think a lot about orchestration. Since the piano and guitar are both chordal instruments, it can be hard for a pianist to play with a guitarist. So I really wanted to be careful. By adding electric guitar, the music became more rhythm-oriented and groove-based. By surrounding the piano with a lot of electric instruments, including my keyboards, the warmth of its sound stood out even more."
Her 2004 release, Brain, won numerous awards and her 2006 release of Spiral has earned her a significant amount of accolades, as well. Those are the facts and what she and others have said about her. When I got the chance to settle down to listen to this acclaimed marvel, I was both intrigued and a bit put off by some of the more aggressive side of her music. Admittedly, I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t get my head around some of the atypical arrangements that seem to be going on here. Still, the less frantic, chilled-out guitar, more structured, jazz-rooted material (which, by the way, truly demonstrated this young lady’s command of her instrument) spoke volumes about why she’s so highly regarded.
Time Control brings with it a lot to grasp and comprehend, but isn’t that what makes jazz such a great genre? We have artists who are basic in their approach and artists who beckon one to sift through the complexities in their music to decipher the essence of who they are and what their music represents. Hiromi is definitely in the second group, and she can be proud to be there.