Interview with Jazz Pianist – Hiromi Uehara
"Incorporating all my emotions into the music"
Returning in 2012 from 1 – 10 June is the 15th year of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. This year's festival featured Japanese pianist, Hiromi Uehara. We had the opportunity of interviewing Hiromi prior to her performances in Melbourne.
Profile of Hiromi Uehara
Currently residing in New York, Hiromi was born in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. She started playing the piano when she was six years old whilst learning to compose at the Yamaha Music School. Now, an alumna at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, she was selected to sign a contract with Telarc, a prestigious Jazz recording company, during her years of study. Making her world debut in 2003, with the album "Another Mind", Hiromi now holds around 150 tours over 100 days every year. Hiromi believes music cannot be created by just playing the notes but from the various experiences and encounters in life.
More information can be found on her official profile at http://www.hiromiuehara.com/en/profile/index.html
-You said you first discovered jazz at your piano teacher’s place when you were 8. What is so appealing about jazz?
What I like most about jazz is ability to improvise. The result is like the combination of various music styles such as classical and rock. The fact that you will never know what to expect makes me deeply attracted to it.
-There are many events held for free at the festival so more people can participate. Has there been a time when you felt that jazz music has been integrated into people’s daily lives?
Probably at restaurants that offer live performances and also at places with the music turned on high. The music is integrated in the sense that some people visit certain restaurants because they want to listen to music while some people discover it as they dine.
I believe that listening to a variety of live performances is a great way for improving my piano playing.
-Your performance has been appraised to be dynamic, astounding and of lightning speed. Does this fit with your own personality?
Well, I hope my personality is not considered to be astounding (laugh)! I guess, there are the emotional aspects but the carefree aspects also flow into it.
-Was there anything that you found surprising and different from the jazz back in Japan compared to the ones in America?
I can’t really compare since I haven't studied at a music college in Japan. Though, I believe the difference does not lie in the music alone as the contrasting culture plays a big part as well. Being able to embrace a different culture that doesn't go by the ethical values and reasoning that I'm used to was a very rewarding learning experience.
-You will be performing with Anthony Jackson and Simon Phillips on June 2nd. The three of you have performed together before as well. Could you please tell us about the reason behind forming this trio?
My latest album "Voice", presents people's inner voices and feelings. Anthony and Simon's music came to my mind when I was composing and it all started from there. Now I get to go around the world on tours with the best members like in Journey to the West so I feel very happy and blessed each day.
-Your performance on June 4th is a solo one. Is there anything that you want to convey to the Melbourne audience?
Each live performance is original, a once in lifetime’s opportunity! I'd like to pass on my gratitude for that spur of the moment, and to fill my music with all my emotions.
-Where do you think you will be in 10 years’ time? What do you think you’ll be doing?
I want to continue to play the piano for a long, long time. I believe that every step taken now will be accumulated and reward me in the future. I'd like to climb this mountain steadily.
Thank you very much Hiromi.
Interviewed and written by: Kurilui Translated by: Yun Liu
Photos: Sakiko Nomura