Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)

Hiromi: VoiceTelarc TEL-32819-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****


A few years back, when I reviewed Hiromi’s debut disc, Another Mind, I was impressed by her technique but found her execution and ideas to be tiring over an entire disc. My opinion was decidedly in the minority -- the pianist garnered positive reviews for that album and the three that followed. While I disliked Hiromi’s emphasis on ’70s-era jazz fusion on Another Mind,here she uses fusion’s techniques -- speed, dexterity and, to some extent, volume -- in new and interesting ways.

Hiromi uses acoustic piano as the center of the trio arrangements on Voice,although she adds electronic keyboards to some tracks. Her accompanists are Anthony Jackson on contrabass guitar and Simon Phillips on drums. Phillips is perhaps best known as a rock drummer with the Who and Toto, among others. He brings the power of rock to his playing on Voice,along with a double bass drum kit, but he has a good feel for jazz. Jackson is also known as much for his work in pop music as in jazz, and his impressive chops are a match for the leader’s.

The Chopin-like opening of the title tune leads into a lively demonstration of Hiromi’s gifts that shows more classical influence than jazz. When Jackson and Phillips join her, the piece falls into a progressive rock groove, with Phillips flailing away. An improvisational passage leans more toward jazz, with Hiromi playing lyrically at many points and dissonantly in others. Phillips gets a feature, accompanied by the other two musicians, before the piece returns to its opening theme. While my description might suggest that the tune is disjointed, it flows together easily and lets the three talented players show off.

"Flashback" opens with a glorious rain of notes that segue into another rock excursion, but the trio quickly moves into jazz, with Hiromi evoking Bill Evans in one section, Dave Brubeck in another, and Erroll Garner in one particularly bracing and surprising moment in the song. Again, the ideas segue into each other easily and Hiromi’s skill and inventiveness will win you over, whatever opinion you might have of jazz. "Now or Never" is a fine blues excursion, and "Temptation" is a beautifully affecting ballad that Hiromi carries into a faster-paced rhythmic and melodic examination of the main theme. It’s probably the strongest track on the disc, and it shows the powerful influence of Ahmad Jamal, one of her mentors.

Michael Bishop recorded and mastered Voice, and the sound is well balanced. Hiromi’s piano is clear and natural and Bishop keeps Phillips’s drums from dominating and overwhelming the performances. I might have brought Jackson up in the mix just a notch, but I found the mix overall to be enjoyable and accessible, and it sounds like Bishop used minimal, well-placed microphones. Voice is an impressive demonstration of Hiromi’s technique and, along with her solo disc, Place to Be, it’s the purest expression of her gifts.

Hiromi Solo: Live at the Blue Note New York (Telarc TEL-32866-09)is a live DVD of many of the songs that appeared on Place to Be. It’s a pleasure to watch the pianist up close, as she plays with beauty and great technical facility. The LPCM sound is good and the filming is unfussy. In a bonus interview, in Japanese with subtitles, Hiromi talks about her art and about some of her favorite cities she’s visited on tour.

. . . Joseph Taylor