Hiromi

Time Control

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Hiromi Uehara's version of jazz is unique without being willfully strange -- clearly deeply rooted in the straight-ahead jazz verities, she nevertheless writes with a distinctly postmodern sensibility, gleefully juxtaposing wildly disparate musical elements and infusing everything with a joyful energy. In fact, joyful energy is probably the most significant hallmark of her music; on her latest album, even her attempt at a ballad eventually winds up in swinging uptempo territory, and just about everything else either rushes headlong or rocks out strongly in midtempo. This is actually something of a concept album centered on the idea of time, the control of time, and the effects of time on humans. It opens with the frantic but lovely "Time Difference," on which guest guitarist David "Fuze" Fiuczynski is given ample room to rock out, and then lapses into the slower, funkier, but no less energetic "Time Out" (an Uehara original, not the Dave Brubeck standard). "Time Travel" starts out strong but runs out of gas about halfway through its eight and a half minute length, but "Real Clock vs. Body Clock = Jet Lag" is a real hoot -- a surf-rock theme that alternates with a barrelhouse barroom piano theme and then becomes an exercise in advanced guitar and synthesizer tonal insanity. One of the most interesting things about this album is the way that Fiuczynski's tonal experimentation draws out a similar adventurousness in Uehara, to the extent that it's sometimes hard to tell which of them is playing a solo. Several tracks on this album are several minutes too long, but overall it's a real treat. You'll be tired at the end, but it will be a good tired.

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