Hiromi Uehara is just the kind of pianist that jazz critics will fall over themselves praising. She’s young, talented and full of speed and power. In fact, if she were a baseball player, the Yankees would’ve already signed her because she’s the perfect 30-30 candidate. And with the blessing of legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal, this woman should go very far.
Uehara’s talent is not in contention here. As I said, speed and power. What concerns me when listening to Another Mind is her grace and vision. The music here is in a straight-ahead mode that somehow gives one a modern-day fusion feel. In fact, if “Summer Rain” is not a straight-up play for airplay on the Smooth Jazz Flavors stations, I’d be highly shocked. And, except for brief, quirky flashes on “010101 (binary system),” I would say that there is nothing on this disc you haven’t heard before. Almost like a Bruckheimer film, there are simply no surprises once you get over the Buddy Rich rapidity at which this woman can play.
I think that’s what is supposed to impress us most, as the label boasts that there are absolutely no overdubs on the album (so what, all of Miles’ late ’60s/early ’70s stuff was all overdubs; I’ll take On the Corner any day). And there is a certain Star Search/Mariah Carey histrionic element to the project. Hiromi’s supposed to Wow! you, and she does. She did me. “XYZ” and “Dancando No Paraiso,” for example, are absolutely incendiary and snatch the breath right out of your lungs. But, in her subtler moments, Uehara stumbles and falls flat, becoming almost George Winston trite. Sometimes you want it down and dirty, and that’s when you want Another Mind. However, when you want the entire experience, perhaps you should return to Hiromi’s mentor, Ahmad Jamal.
Telarc Jazz: http://www.telarc.com/