Hiromi Uehara, the revered and renowned pianist/composer and mastermind of Hiromi’s Sonicbloom, comes to us again with her fiery, innovative, and electrifying brand of fusion on Beyond Standard, her latest venture, which again basically defies the traditional pigeonholes of music. She is truly a powerhouse of uniqueness. I had the pleasure of reviewing her last release Time Control and had to tackle a real challenge in attempting to dissect her powerful interpretations and distinctive quality. Beyond Standard, a most appropriate description of the very persona of Hiromi, presented no less of a challenge. A very welcome challenge, no less, as this production solidly landed me as a real fan of this artist and her vitality.
On Beyond Standard, familiars like "My Favorite Things" and "I Got Rhythm" get a thorough workout with this entire group’s effervescent interpretations packing the creative punch expected from them and do they ever deliver. If you want to talk improvisation, take a good hard listen to the group’s take on legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck’s "Led Boots." In other words, take the beautiful canvasses of some of the really great standards and popular tunes and add a splash of Hiromi’s Sonicbloom and you’ve got something resembling genius in motion.
Bassist Tony Grey, as well as guitarist Dave "Fuze" Fiuczynski and drummer Martin Valihora, put a most striking and glowing sheen on this project, feeding into and grasping Hiromi’s energy while contributing their own firepower and vivid cerebral signatures. One can only imagine the fun that this group must have had pulling this all together. Grey’s tight and prolific bass lines, Fiuczynski’s sharp and marvelously structured riffs and Valihora’s superior grip on some of the most challenging time signatures around just speak volumes about the professional and somewhat daunting behemoth that is Hiromi’s Sonicbloom.
Aspiring fusion artists/musicians should, by all means, include a few pages from this band and this particular project in their advanced studies of this music form. If you’re just a good ol’ appreciative fan of good fusion and Hiromi, just listen to the reasons presented on this album as to why your allegiance is not misplaced.