Pianist Hiromi Uehara doesn’t want to put a name on her music, she says, because it’s a rounded combination of elements from classical, rock and jazz that can’t fit any musical square holes. As evidence, “XYZ” opens her debut album Another Mind (Telarc) with a count-off worthy of a hardcore punk band and a blistering tempo to match. Like many of the album’s nine originals, this tune features several distinct and varied sections, including a portion where Hiromi flies over the odd-meter ostinato of bassist Mitch Cohn and drummer Dave DiCenso. It draws as much from King Crimson as Oscar Peterson, to whom she tips her hat in the solo “The Tom and Jerry Show” at the end of the album.
But the 23-year old Hiromi, who goes by her first name professionally, says her disregard for categorization comes from the way she listens to music. “When I listen to Herbie Hancock, I don’t listen to him as ‘jazz pianist Herbie Hancock’; I listen to him as ‘Herbie Hancock, art creator,’ because it’s amazing for all arts,” she says. “People like Jeff Beck, who I love-I don’t listen to him as a rock guitarist. And classical music: Bartók rocks, you know?”