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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

Hiromi

By Ernest Barteldes
Published December 15, 2006

Spiral
Telarc

On her third release, this still-young Berklee College graduate keeps pushing her talents forward, blending electronic music influences garnered from her native Japan with classic, rock and jazz sounds. Backed by Tony Grey on bass and Martin Valihora on drums, she seamlessly goes from inspiring acoustic moments to more electric ones, surprising the listener with her incredible speed on the keys. She impresses on “Suite For Three Piece Orchestra,” a piece that takes up a good half of the album, and it is amazing how her band, which obviously has progressive rock influences, manages to keep up. She borrows from Brazil on “Old Castle, By The River, In The Middle Of The Forest,” as Valihora and Grey contribute a samba-like backing which fits in perfectly with Hiromi’s improvisations. Five minutes into the song, the mood shifts and it becomes a soft, soothing ballad. Special attention is merited for the live rendition of “Return Of Kung Fu World Champion,” a tune that has the same frantic speed of Jackie Chan’s early films, which inspired the song in the first place.