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Cool Spin: Hiromi, ‘Alive’ (Telarc)

This is third release in pianist Hiromi’s Trio Project series with versatile electric six-string contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips (The Who, Toto, et al), and it’s the closest of the three to a traditional jazz trio recording—on both 2011’s Voice and 2012’s Move, Hiromi played some electric keyboards, as well as the acoustic grand that appears here exclusively. Still, given the pedigrees of the trio, it’s not surprising to find there are strong elements of rock, fusion and blues spread across the album’s nine long-ish tracks, all Hirmoi compositions. Most of the tunes visit several styles, moving easily from bright melodic passages to ones with abrupt rhythm and tempo changes. The playing is spectacular throughout, filled with both passion and precision, and I must give a special shout-out to Phillips’ supremely musical drum work on song after song. “Firefly” is a pretty piano-only interlude on what is otherwise a splendid team effort from beginning to end. The sound is impeccable.

Producers: Hiromi and Michael Bishop. Recorded at Avatar (NYC) by Michael Bishop and mixed by Bishop at Clonick Hall Studio, Oberlin (Ohio) Conservatory of Music. Mastering by Bishop.