Hiromi pushes the boundaries with her incredible music

 In Music

Jazz Sydney

I had the pleasure of watching the amazing pianist Hiromi with her trio featuring Anthony Jackson and Simon Philips in Sydney recently.

This wasn’t the first time.

I first heard Hiromi ten years ago when attending a Kenny Garrett gig at The Blue Note in New York. Hiromi’s trio took the first set and Kenny Garrett’s band took the second set. I hadn’t heard of Hiromi and was really just there to see Kenny Garrett.

I can still remember it vividly.

There I was at the famous Blue Note in New York city, and I as able to score a table literally 1 1/2 metres away from the piano. It was the third day in the famous city and I’d been saving money by eating cheap and nasty junk food. And I was famished. So when I saw deep south soul chicken on the menu I was left without choice. I had to order it. All fifty minutes before the show started.

I was pretty hungry and the food didn’t come out until forty eight minutes later, just as the a voice announced to the stage “Hiromi”. I quickly took a taste of the food and it was sensational! I looked up and there was this pianist taking a seat behind the piano about 1 1/2 metres from me.

That was then I realised I wasted my money on the food.

The sheer force of energy that came from a contemporary piano trio in the first few seconds literally blew me back in my chair. Fingers on every key of the piano with complex rhythms I’d never heard before… it was a sheer force of amazing, creative and musical energy.

I could have been four days without food and it wouldn’t have mattered. This was amazing creative music that demonstrated such viruosity and skill it was amazing.

Fast forward to this year and Hiromi was in Sydney for the first time ever. This time with a different bass player and drummer.

Check the Hiromi trio below.

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As a neverending student of creative music, here are a few observations from the Sydney concert.


Hiromi and Anthony Jackson play their music through the bodies in a very visual way.

In addition to an amazing technique, Hiromi is not afraid to throw convention aside and stand up, dance, move around whilst she is playing. Whatever it is that driving her to make the music on her keyboard is very evident in her facial expressions and movements. She literally dances her whole body with the music.

Anthony Jackson is amazing also to watch. His head and neck move with the complex accents of the music and you can see the same musical energy dancing its way through his body as he plays.

These guys on stage are totally present in the moment in all they do.

Simon Phillips comes across as having incredible control over his instrument.

The drummer Simon Phillips is also present in the moment, but you see it differently. He comes across as very controlled. Incredible to watch him play the most amazingly complex rhythms and patterns without blinking an eye lid. From my vantage point you could see him sitting above what he was playing and aware of everything else going on and behind totally in control. This guys is an amazing drummer.

There is so much going on in the music

It can be quite exhausting after seeing a Hiromi concert because she covers so much ground in the 90 minute performance. You get a full spectrum of sounds, emotions, styles, and advanced rhythms. Hiromi is big on rhythm and you can see that this drives her music perhaps more than the lyrical elements – although there is plenty of that there. Perhaps the thing that makes her music so intense is that there is so much going on. If she were a writer, perhaps she would write paragraphs like Dostoyevsky. (He would pack a whole world of ideas in one single sentence).

She is a truly inspiring artist and musician.

The only disappointment on the night came from the sound desk

The only disappointment for me at this concert was the venue’s sound. Whoever was in charge let these world class performers down.

The piano was quite down in the mix for the first few songs and the drums’ level just overpowered the piano. After a few songs I realised that perhaps it was becase the front of house was not turned on at the left of the stage and we were only hearing the piano monitor. This is because there became an apparent hum – yes a hum – in the front of house speakers. After a short while we got to hear more piano and then a better balance. However, in the quiet moments there was a hum.

This is seriously not good when piano is the main instrument for this concert. How could the sound people not get that right?

But further more, the bass in the bass drum was pumped up high so that often it was hard to hear the clarity of Anthony Jackson’s playing in the lower register. Seriously!

Rock sound guys tend to love pushing the bass on the bass drum up without knowing that this does not work on a jazz or close to acoustic gig.

Sadly for a world class venue, the sound was a real let down.

But the great thing is that this did not stop the performers doing an amazing concert full of the same energy I experienced many years ago at the Blue Note. If you like creative music with lots of incredible musicianship and you have the opportunity to see Hiromi in concert, grab a ticket and enjoy the musical force!


Another highlight on the night was catching up with my good friends (and great musicians) Steve Ley and Merv Sequeira who play on my album Burning Time.

[one_third][custom_frame_center shadow=”on”]The Trio[/custom_frame_center][/one_third] [one_third][custom_frame_center shadow=”on”]Brochure[/custom_frame_center] [/one_third] [one_third_last][custom_frame_center shadow=”on”]Hiromi with Dave[/custom_frame_center] [/one_third_last]
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