She goes by Hiromi, the only identification needed for the Japanese wizard of the keyboard who is ranked as the number one instrumentalist in her native land. Her award-winning gold albums showcase eclectic arrangements and compositions influenced by every musical genre that strikes her fancy. In “Beyond Standard” released in 2008, she even fuses jazz, classical, rock and avant-garde in such familiar compositions as “Clair De Lune,” “Caravan,” “My Favorite Things” and “I’ve Got Rhythm.” In this and all six of her CDs and two Live in Concert DVDs, her over-the-top energy propels each number to the outer limits.
“I always give everything I’ve got and I look for that in the musicians I work with,” she says. “I play each concert as if this is the very last I’ll ever give. Fate gave me the opportunity and I must not waste it, so I play my very best to thank the audience for being there.”
Hiromi refuses to put a name on her style. A child prodigy, she began studying classical piano at age five, but her world expanded at eight when her piano teacher introduced her to jazz. She credits that “very special” teacher, Noriko Hakita, with pointing her in a wide open direction. By twelve, she knew that she wanted to be a professional musician and within two years she performed with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
It’s no coincidence that the influence of jazz pianist Chick Corea, along with those of Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, and Ahmad Jamal, bursts forth in her music. Upon meeting and hearing the then-seventeen-year-old in Tokyo during a tour, Corea invited her to play with him the next day. Their friendship and musical attunement pulsates on “Duet/Chick Corea and Hiromi” recorded live at Tokyo Blue Note.
After spending several years writing jingles for Nissan and other Japanese companies, Hiromi began studies in earnest under Jamal at Berklee College of Music in Boston. There she perfected her capacity for extracting energy wherever it exits. She proclaims that the energy inherent in classical works by Bach and Liszt is every bit as influential to her keyboard virtuosity as is that projected by powerful athletes like Michael Jordan.
Following “Another Mind,” her debut album of 2003, she released “Brain,” “Spiral,” and “Time Control.” Each is unique for intellectual pairing of swing, jazz, be-bop and rock influences and song titles that invite visual challenges. “Old castle, by the river, in the middle of the forest” appears in both “Spiral” and “Duet.” Like many of her original compositions, the piece was suggested by the places she visits throughout the world.
While she is off on her current international tour with the explosive Stanley Clarke Band, fans can luxuriate at home with “Places to Be,” a collection of songs she wrote while traveling. The locations she incorporates within range from Sicily, Bern, and the Azores to Cape Cod and the Las Vegas she captured from the daytime, gambling and show girl perspectives. It’s a given that the vistas of Russia, Spain and points in between will inspire new keyboard creations.