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CD Review: Hiromi 

Place to Be (Telarc)

Recent recordings and live performances by Japanese-born, U.S.-based jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara found her giving the concept of fusion a much-needed shot in the arm. Playing acoustic and electronic keyboards at last summer's Montreal Jazz Festival, she and her band Sonicbloom wowed the crowd by melding engaging melodies, audacious and creative soloing, and a touch of showmanship (or "showpersonship," for the PC types). A major departure, Place to Be is Hiromi unplugged, her first solo acoustic disc. With a program of originals (except for Pachelbel's "Canon"), Hiromi pays tribute to her influences — archangels of the 88's Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea and Ahmad Jamal. It's a richly varied set — from the pensive bebop of "Sicilian Blue" (very Art Tatum) to the invigorating, Fats Waller-like "Show City, Show Girl" with its jaunty blues overtones, to the sublime romantic balladry of the title track. She has the technique of Peterson, the tunefulness of Corea and the economy of Jamal, while sounding like no one but herself. — Mark Keresman

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