Hiromi Uehara is probably one of the greatest, largely unknown, pianists of our time. She is probably part of the rising Japanese inflation with jazz that has become a growing centerpiece of modern Japanese culture. I think the thing that most makes her stand out (and maybe has put her outside the normal jazz scene) is her absolutely crystal clear technical ability and astounding control of her dynamics. It is like listening to a concert-pianist technical expert, one that has mastered every nuance of the piano’s tones and dynamics, and yet is playing what is usually a more ragged jazz genre.
Here’s a song of hers that I have been listening to and keep listening to again and again. The crystal clear runs without a hint of slur or slop along with dynamics are astounding. Each listen I’m more amazed at how there is not a single sloppy note or missed dynamic in the whole piece – and that each note plays perfectly into the mood and feel she is weaving:
It makes me believe the pruported story by someone who attended a master class with house band member Tony Grey, a bass player, who record and toured with her. He told the class that every morning he and the other bandmates would wake up with a hand written note that detailed every single mistake they got wrong the night before.
Here’s another astounding piece that demonstrates an ever increasing progression of the most crystal clear jazz improvisation on top of a well known tune. She first imitates a harpsicord by putting metal rulers on the strings, but I think it really gets amazing starting around 3:04, 5:15, and 7:05. A modern Japanese artist performing a German composer’s music remixed in the jazz style from African Americans on an instrument invented in Italy. Amazing.
Sometimes called Tuvan throat singing, Anna-Maria Hefele gives one of the most musically rigorous and thorough description of how it works. Super bonus points for demonstrating it with actual audio spectrum analysis to prove her points.
Do you feel you were robbed because you were born too early to catch Pink Floyd live concerts? Brit Floyd is probably the closest you’ll ever get to experiencing them live. The sound is nearly perfect. I hope I can see them.
NearHear is a very cool way to find out about music in your area. You tell it where you are, a date range, then it lists all the upcoming bands/singers on that date. Not only that, but it has a direct link to their spotify account so you can sample their music without having to leave the site.
You can also select the venue/genre you want and send that playlist to your Spotify account. Pretty darn cool.
Dennis James shows us around 2 of the more unusual musical instruments – ones that require wetted hands that make their glass parts sing. The Cristal Baschet and Glass Armonica are fascinating historical glass instruments.
The Glass Armonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin and was purported to be dangerous to both players and listeners by driving them mad or even killing them.
The Cristal Baschet was developed by the French brothers Bernard and Frncois Baschet as a sculpture that could be played to produce music. They also invented an inflatable guitar and an aluminum piano.