Keyboard's August 2016 feature story will be an exclusive interview with composer/keyboardist Hiromi about her latest trio release Spark (Telarc), featuring two monster musicians that she has worked with for years—Anthony Jackson (bass) and Simon Phillips (drums).
In our 2013 interview, Hiromi explained that, when she writes, it is as if "the composer Hiromi is writing for the pianist Hiromi. I orchestrate everything for piano, bass, and drums, and I try to make everybody shine in different ways.”
When interviewer Jon Regen reminded her of that comment in the latest interview, Hiromi shared a practical example of how she continuously pushes herself and her band to extend themselves, musically:
"Yes, and it’s amazing that the composer Hiromi still can write so many things that the pianist Hiromi can’t play, you know? [Laughs.] I do write a lot of odd meters, for example, but I never really try to write odd meters or other difficult things. Things just naturally become that way. For example, the song I wrote for the new album, called “Dilemma,” is in 11/8. When I first came up with the melody, I just loved it. Then I counted it and realized, “Oh my goodness, it’s in eleven!I’ve never played in eleven.
"A prime number is always kind of difficult to play in. I thought, “Can I make it 12/8 or maybe 5/4,” maybe adding one more beat, or releasing one beat? So I tried to make it easier, but what happened was that the special feeling I had for the original melody was gone. So I realized it had to be in eleven. It usually happens naturally like that, and then I just have to keep playing until I feel comfortable with it."
The August 2016 issue of Keyboard magazine also includes exercises to help you get Hiromi's sound into your own playing, as well as lessons for developing solo jazz-piano chops and expanding your use of minor pentatonic scales.
We also have interviews with Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro and jazz-composer Vijay Iyer, and reviews of the Dave Smith Instruments Oberheim OB-6 and the Arturia V Collection 5.
In the meantime, check out the teaser video for Hiromi's Spark, which includes outstanding performances by the trio in the studio.
Hair/Makeup: Yaemi Tanaka