Having made three recordings and played
countless concerts with Anthony Jackson
and drummer Simon Phillips, gifted piano
goddess Hiromi set out to capture the super-trio’s
live spontaneity and vivacity on her latest studio effort. Mission
accomplished. The interval-twisting, chamber-jazz title track opener,
as well as the more classically attuned exploration “Wanderer,” boast
drum step-outs—while the pop-leaning “Seeker,” a nod to Hiromi’s
ever-present Ahmad Jamal influence, ends with a call-and-response
improv between Jackson (still on his solidbody Fodera contrabass
guitar “No. 10,” having not yet received his hollowbody Presentation
II) and the pianist. Most exhilarating is when the trio merges
approaches: “Player” begins as an angular meter mash, gives way to
“Spinning Wheel” changes for Jackson’s groove solo, and morphs to
double-time swing for Hiromi’s stompin’ solo turn. “Spirit” starts reverent
and bluesy, settling in a halftime gospel feel for Jackson and Hiromi’s extended features, and riding out as a Chicago shuffle. “Life
Goes On” alternates between modal and R&B changes before Hiromi
lays out, revealing Jackson and Phillips’ premium pocket-lock and
telepathic time manipulation. The tour de force is “Warrior,” which
starts as a stately sonata, evolves into a unison Brubeck-ian strain,
and includes drum breaks and a robust, range-reaching bass flight.
The true magic, however, comes via the interplay during Hiromi’s solo,
as Jackson and Phillips spontaneously support, suggest, and react.
The art of the piano trio is alive and well.