|Hiromi in 2007.
Photo Credit Nomo/Michael Hoefner – Creative Commons
Hiromi The Trio Project
(Royal Festival Hall. 2015 EFG LJF. 18th November 2015. Review by Romy Summers)
Hiromi Uehara in concert is like an exhilarating roller coaster ride. Her “Trio Project” immediately catapults the audience into into a frenetic world. The title of the first song Spark seems to invite the obvious comparisons: the pianist herself is like a beautiful firework, you cannot anticipate her next trajectory, but each new departure never fails to satisfy an appreciative audience.
Hiromi herself is so passionate in every note she plays, we see her eyes shut as she turns away from the piano continuing to make music with such precision and feeling. The sheer energy she commits to performance is super-human: twenty minutes into the show last night she was mopping her head – I was exhausted just watching.
In her playing, she is also capable of going from power house to mouse, moving between playing with her forearms and fists to the most delicate of raindrop touches. The contrast between how Hiromi is at the piano and her demeanour when speaking to the audience is also a fascinating transformation each time.
Anthony Jackson on bass and Simon Phillips on drums: what a rhythm section. There was a fiercely interactive section in Player with duelling rhythms, a fast elegant dialogue between piano and drums whilst Jackson’s bass provided the perfect backdrop. In this established trio with its wealth of combined experience, Hiromi’s complemented by Phillips’ ever-so-light touch of the cymbals and Jackson’s non-stop walking electric bass, always authoritative, propulsive, assertive and moving the ensemble forwards.
Simon Phillips sits in a sea of cymbals towering over him, drumming with such power and passion (– he certainly means business. His five minute drum solo in the Encore In A Trance was the complete tour de force. During it, Hiromi walked over, bottle of water in hand, to become a member of his audience just like the rest of us, to observe this mighty drummer at work, before returning to the piano and launching into a tremendous Latino piano sequence to conclude her first appearance at the Royal Festival Hall.