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Hiromi: Return of Piano World Champion

Hiromi

The first 100 seconds of Spiral (Telarc), the third album by Hiromi, give the impression that the Japanese pianist might venture off into the ECM world of tranquility. In fact, the volume should be turned up to make out the gentle chords that she hangs freely in the air. But as the title cut nears the two-minute mark, the mood shifts: Hiromi guides her trio in a gentle waltz that leads to an odd-metered groove in which bassist Tony Grey’s upper register sounds a lot like a guitar. The transitions might not be drastic, but they hint at the sense of adventure that the Berklee grad packs into her music, never staying with one idea for too long.

“In the composing process, first I usually come up with one specific melody or riff, which is played again and again in different shapes through the song,” she says. “Sometimes I kind of put the melody in a hidden place, like a treasure search.” After two albums in as many years that showcased Hiromi’s astounding technique and a fondness for compositions with an art-rocker’s sense of transition, Spiral finds the 26-year-old pianist taking her approach to a level where her concept is finely tuned.

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