Acoustic pianist/electric pianist Hiromi has been documented in a variety of settings. The Japanese improviser is excellent as a trio pianist, but she has fared equally well in duos and as an unaccompanied solo pianist. Hiromi played acoustic piano by herself on her 2009 studio recording Place to Be, and she is also unaccompanied on Solo Live at Blue Note New York (a DVD that focuses on an August 2010 engagement at the Blue Note in the West Village). Hiromi knows her way around electric keyboards, and she has no problem providing jazz-rock fusion (the fact that she frequently plays straight-ahead doesn't make her a jazz purist). But Hiromi plays the acoustic piano exclusively on Solo, sticking to straight-ahead post-bop. On Hiromi's previous DVDs, her facial expressions underscored the abundance of enthusiasm that she brings to her live performances; Hiromi sometimes looks downright ecstatic when she plays. And the same thing applies on Solo; one need only observe Hiromi's facial expressions to see just how much pleasure she gets from playing "Cape Cod Chips," "Green Tea Farm," "Sicilian Blue," and other originals. Hiromi really gives 100 percent on these post-bop performances, and the Blue Note audience is obviously well aware of her enthusiasm. It should be noted that in addition to the Blue Note performances, this DVD offers, as bonus material, an interview/documentary portion (which is mostly in Japanese with English subtitles) and some footage of Hiromi on tour in Europe. Hiromi admirers who enjoyed the unaccompanied performances on Place to Be will find that the solo piano format also serves her delightfully well on Solo Live at Blue Note New York.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson