Japanese pianist Hiromi left fans perplexed when she disbanded her trio with fellow Berklee alumni Tony Grey (bass) and Martin Valihora (drums) after several standout releases. Yet that trio, often augmented by guitarist David Fiuczynski, built its incredible rapport over time.
Such appears to be the case with Hiromi’s latest trio featuring veteran all-stars Anthony Jackson (bass) and Simon Phillips (drums). On its 2011 studio debut CD, Voice, this band lacked the cohesion of her preceding unit. But this inspired concert DVD sees the Trio Project, as the group is billed, transform that studio material.
The film’s first five lengthy tracks are from Voice. “Delusion,” with its playful stops and starts and interactive middle section, and the New Orleans-infused funk vehicle “Now or Never” simmer as appetizers. The main course starts with Voice‘s Return to Forever-influenced title track, an evocation of Hiromi’s recording credits with both Chick Corea and the rhythm section of Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. “Flashback” showcases her incredible independence between right and left hands while shifting between odd and even time signatures, and Beethoven couldn’t have foreseen this trio’s take on his “Piano Sonata No. 8, Pathetique.” More bluesy and soulful than classical, the piece showcases Hiromi’s hummingbird right-hand runs, Phillips’ delicate brushwork and a great closing counter-melody by Jackson.
Hiromi unselfishly puts the spotlight on her partners with two closing tracks from her 2003 debut, Another Mind. “Dancando No Paraiso” features a tribal solo by the British Phillips (whose credits include Jeff Beck, Jack Bruce and Pete Townshend) that unites Ginger Baker with Elvin Jones, and native New Yorker Jackson (Corea, Steely Dan, Paul Simon) plays a break on the gospel-tinged “Joy” that leaves the French crowd wanting more. Things are suddenly looking up for this trio’s forthcoming studio effort, Move.