Alive (feat. Anthony Jackson & Simon Phillips)
Here on Hiromi’s third studio album in four years with contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips, the trio are in an expansive mood, with only three tunes that are less than eight minutes long. Highlights include the driving uptempo title track and “Warrior,” which both have the kind of attack you’d expect from a fusion band despite the fact that Hiromi stays on acoustic piano throughout this album. Also notable is the upbeat and episodic “Life Goes On,” which moves through a series of interrelated ideas with an amiable ease. The simple melody, straightforward structure, and blues flavor of “Seeker” would to seem to indicate a cover, but it isn’t. The solo piano piece “Firefly” is a delicate waif of a song, illustrating the expansiveness of her language. And while the great Ahmad Jamal has mentored her, the pianist gives a sly reference to Monk’s “While You Needn’t” in the opening of “Player.” Filled with dazzling musicianship and wicked compositional twists, Alive gives Hiromi’s fans exactly what they want while never being less than herself.