Hiromi: Spark

Uehara, Jackson and Phillips reunite – and those sparks fly.

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Piano prodigy Hiromi Uehara reunites with contrabassist Anthony Jackson and drum genius Simon Phillips for their fourth collaboration.

The music on the aptly titled Spark is tricky to categorise: Phillips has described their sound as ‘progressive acoustic jazz’, and that’s as good a label as any. Hiromi is a dextrous and daring pianist, equally at home bringing a swaggering blues feel to Indulgence, dancing lithely around the keys on Take Me Away, or pulling off yet another quick-fire solo in the title track. As an improviser, she always keeps the melody in her sights no matter how complex her phrasing. Jackson is the glue holding it all together, while Phillips is foil and sparring partner for the pianist, matching her phrase for phrase and lick for lick in Wonderland. The trio format really lets the veteran drummer shine: his improvisation over the title track’s vamp is masterful, exceeded only by the cascading rhythms of his own solo spot for In A Trance. The album is completely loaded with energy, due in large part to the fact it was recorded live, with all three musicians in the moment and giving free rein to their extraordinary creativity. Unreservedly recommended.

David West

After starting his writing career covering the unforgiving world of MMA, David moved into music journalism at Rhythm magazine, interviewing legends of the drum kit including Ginger Baker and Neil Peart. A regular contributor to Prog, he’s written for Metal Hammer, The Blues, Country Music Magazine and more. The author of Chasing Dragons: An Introduction To The Martial Arts Film, David shares his thoughts on kung fu movies in essays and videos for 88 Films, Arrow Films, and Eureka Entertainment. He firmly believes Steely Dan’s Reelin’ In The Years is the tuniest tune ever tuned.