|Hiromi at Cadogan Hall, April 2014|
Photo credit: Roger Thomas. All Rights Reserved
Hiromi: The Trio Project
(Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square. 13th April 2014. First night of three. Review by Rob Mallows)
If the UK is, as scientists say, desperately in search of new sources of energy, the government could do worse than plug The Trio Project into the national grid. What a display of musical pyrotechnics we saw on Sunday at Cadogan Hall, the first of three UK gigs at the Sloane Square venue, the trio’s only UK appearances this year.
This was an energetic, frenetic and spell-binding gig, at the centre of which was Japan’s own musical pocket-rocket, Hiromi Uehara (whom Sebastian recently interviewed, an interview in which she acknowledged the profound influence of Ahmad Jamal). Performing tunes from their last album Move (2012) and their upcoming album, scheduled for June, Alive, the trio – consisting of Hiromi herself, all foot stomping, smiles and floppy, cotton candy hair, Anthony Jackson on contra-bass guitar, and LA-based UK drummer Simon Phillips – touched most points on the musical compass in a wonderful tour de force. The audience got jazz in bucket-loads, sure; but they also got progressive rock, the blues, classical allusions, rhythm and blues and even some AOR. The 88 keys in front of her give Hiromi a world of possibilities.
The two sets were a pleasure just to sit and listen to, intently, feeling what these three musicians can do together. A powerful opening – Hiromi battering down block chords to kick of explosive opener Move – set the tone for the evening. The Trio Project works with quartz precision and it’s a joy to behold. Phillips’ drumming covered all the rhythmic bases: with a huge kit that was more Carl Palmer than Art Blakey, he provided the turbo boost that drove the music along and challenged Hiromi to go one step further every bar. Bassist Jackson – seated centre-stage, at times almost wrestling with his contra-bass guitar in the search for the colour tones – was in the pocket all night, matching the volcanic activity on either side of him.