Hiromi & Gregory Porter: Two for the Vogue

One of the things that Hiromi Uehara and Gregory Porter have in common is that they were both introduced to lower mainland audiences as fresh young faces by the Vancouver International Jazz Festival in presentations at Performance Works. Hiromi’s early quartet Sonic Bloom featuring guitarist David Fiuczynski made its Vancouver debut in 2009 on one of her first North American tours. Since then she’s become a festival favourite with her eclectic influences ranging from Debussy to Chick Corea to Keith Emerson.
Hiromi is a pianistic tour de force having started classical piano lessons at the age of 6 and performing with symphony orchestras and seasoned veterans like Chick Corea and Ahmad Jamal while still in her teens. Here’s one of her show stopping features – the cartoon Tom & Jerry Theme!

Since 2010 Hiromi has settled in with her working trio featuring legendary six-string bassist Anthony Jackson (who has played with everyone from Chick Corea to Steely Dan to Dizzy Gillespie to Simon & Garfunkel) and equally legendary drummer Simon Phillips (who is British rock royalty having played with The Who, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck and Alan Parsons). This working ensemble has had a chance to develop a strong chemistry and identity – the players are so strong that every performance is an adventure. Here’s part of the story behind their brand-new recording on Telarc called Spark:

Another recent recording project reveals a different side of Hiromi’s musical character – Oscar with Love brought together sixteen pianists to play Oscar Peterson’s own piano and a number of his unrecorded compositions to celebrate what would have been his 90th birthday. Hiromi had known and visited Peterson’s home in Mississagua and had taken note of his love of photography contributing her own tribute “Oscar’s Camera” to the project.
Hiromi’s trio comes to the Vogue on Friday June 24th.

When Gregory Porter came to Performance Works in 2013, he had two well-received Motema Records releases under his belt and his breakthrough Blue Note recording had just been released. The comparisons to the soul masters abound but for both his singing and his writing, he reminds me most of the great Bill Withers. His mother was a minister (with her own flock of seven kids) and Porter demonstrates on the title song Liquid Spirit that he still knows how to go to church.

No one who saw him at PerfWorks a couple of years back was surprised when he won the best Jazz Vocal Grammy Award the following spring. In the interim he’s barely been off the road long enough to write the songs for his recently released album Take Me to the Alley – two weeks after its release its already getting raves for songs like Holding On:

The record release tour brings him to The Vogue on July 2nd, 2016 in a double bill with Bruno Hubert.
While you’re at it you might want to check out some of this year’s discoveries, they might just be tomorrow’s stars. For some of their previews (and others) check out this year’s Coastal Jazz Blog.

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