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Hiromi Uehara

I don't want to put a name on my music. Other people can put a name on what I do. It’s just the union of what I've been listening to and what I've been learning. It has some elements of classical music, it has some rock, it has some jazz, but I don't want to give it a name.”  – Hiromi

Ever since the 2003 release of her debut Telarc CD, Another Mind, Hiromi has electrified audiences and critics east and west, with a creative energy that encompasses and eclipses the boundaries of jazz, classical and pop parameters, taking improvisation and composition to new heights of complexity and sophistication. Her new CD, Spark, her tenth as a leader, features her critically acclaimed Trio Project, consisting of contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson (Steely Dan, Paul Simon, Michel Camilo, The O’Jays and Chick Corea) and drummer Simon Phillips (Toto, The Who, Judas Priest, David Gilmour and Jack Bruce).

Born in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan on March 26, 1979, Hiromi’s piano lessons started when she was six, and she performed her first recital at that age. Her first teacher, Noriko Hikida, encouraged her to access both the intuitive and technical aspects of music. “Her energy was always so high, and she was so emotional,” Hiromi says of Hikida. “When she wanted me to play with a certain kind of dynamics, she wouldn’t say it with technical terms. If the piece was something passionate, she would say, ‘Play red.’ Or if it was something mellow, she would say, ‘Play blue.’ I could really play from my heart that way, and not just from my ears.”

Hikida also exposed Hiromi to jazz and introduced her to the great pianists Erroll Garner and Oscar Peterson. She enrolled in the Yamaha School of Music at age six and started to write music at that time.

Hiromi moved to the United States in 1999, and she matriculated at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, which extended her artistic sensibilities. “It expanded so much the way I see music,” she says. “Some people dig jazz, some people dig classical music, some people dig rock. Everyone is so concerned about who they like. They always say, ‘This guy is the best,’ ‘No, this guy is the best.’ But I think everyone is great. I really don’t have barriers to any type of music. I could listen to everything from metal to classical music to anything else.”

Click here to learn more about Hiromi.

Anthony Jackson

Anthony Jackson has been a distinctive voice on the electric bass since entering the scene in New York City. He began playing the piano as a teen before switching to the guitar, and finally picking up the bass after being influenced by legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson.

Jackson is a student of Jerry Fisher, Lawrence Lucie, and Pat Martino. He has performed live in more than 30 countries, and has recorded in more than 3,000 sessions on more than 500 albums. His bass introduction for the O'Jays' "For The Love Of Money" (on their classic album Ship Ahoy) earned him a co-writer's credit on the song alongside Gamble & Huff.

In 2010, Jackson released his first leader album, INTERSPIRIT, with Greek bassist Yiorgos Fakanas from Abstract Logix.

Jackson, in 1978 touring the Netherlands with Al Di Meola, devised a “six-string bass”, tuned B-E-A-D-G-C, which he called the contrabass guitar. He said that the idea for adding more strings to the bass guitar came from his frustration with its limited range.

Jackson first approached various luthiers in 1974 about the construction of his idea, and Carl Thompson built the first six-string for Jackson in 1975. He later approached luthier Ken Smith of Ken Smith Basses to build him a six string bass before finally playing instruments made by New York-based bass makers, Fodera. Jackson has been playing the six string bass since 1981.

Jackson initially played the guitar, and studied with renowned jazz guitarist Pat Martino. But as he put it, “I continued playing standard as well as bass guitar until 1968, when I was forced to admit that my standard guitar playing should be quietly put to death.”

Jackson cites his main influences as James Jamerson, Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane, and French composer Olivier Messiaen. Jamerson’s influence on Jackson is perceptible to anyone familiar with both players, particularly on Jamerson tracks like “How Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone?” by Diana Ross and The Supremes, where the use of arpeggiation and passing notes for simultaneous chordal and rhythmic expression are telltale.

Casady, whom I'd first heard on Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow album in late 1966, had a big, rich, metallic sound with a full bottom and a curious, guitaristic way of playing that I was immediately drawn to. When I saw him perform live, I was struck by his dignity and serious mien. It was Casady's sound that kept me exploring the expressive possibilities of using the pick. To this day, when I use one and a flanger, Casady's influence emerges and can be clearly detected by an aficionado.”

Jackson’s other major influence is Olivier Messiaen, whose music changed his life “irrevocably and forever”. It was Messiaen’s organ suite “La Nativité du Seigneur” that so impressed Jackson that he remarked: “I hear the tritone as the central interval on which to build harmonies and melodies, as opposed to the major or minor third… The tritone interval has been extremely important to me from the first day I heard Messiaen playing his own music on organ.”
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