World & Latin

Hiromi In Full Bloom

29 JUN 09 JOHN C. BRUENING

Already a purveyor of edgy, progressive jazz that occasionally flirted with the avant garde, pianist Hiromi Uehara upped the ante when she assembled Sonicbloom to record Time Control (2007) and Beyond Standard (2008). Between the release of those CDs, cameras rolled when Sonicbloom performed at the Tokyo International Forum Hall. The result is Hiromi's Sonicbloom: Live In Concert, a DVD that captures seven songs in an hour and 45 minutes of concert footage.

Made up of Hiromi, bassist Tony Gray, drummer Martin Valihora and guitarist David "Fuze" Fiuczynski, JazzTimes aptly dubbed the foursome "a quartet of fusionistas in Deep Purple mode."

Armed with a double-necked guitar throughout the performance, Fiuczynski -- whose resume includes work with John Medeski, John Zorn, and his own quartet, Screaming Headless Torsos -- provides the ideal pyrotechnic foil for Hiromi's high-speed and highly expressive piano work. And the mere fact that Gray and Valihora can hold these two together for any length of time is a testament to their individual and combined abilities.

The visual element in this set reaffirms and even amplifies the high level of intensity first heard on the aforementioned CDs. The performance draws heavily from Time Control, including the playful "Deep in the Night," the effects-heavy "Time and Space" and the sometimes fiery and sometimes ambient "Time Control, Or Controlled by Time." Other noteworthy numbers include the experimental "Note from the Past" and the high-energy encore, "Return of Kung-Fu World Champion."

Hiromi is playing the East Coast now. Hiromi's Sonicbloom continues to push piano jazz to entirely new places. Keeping up may be a challenge, but it's ultimately worth the ride.