Let me say up front that I don't care for solo piano. A song, yes. An album, no. Call it a limited attention span. More like it’s a desire to hear a band: drums, bass, sax or trumpet, and maybe a rhythm guitar in lieu of piano.

But take a master like Bob James or Chick Corea, and the format can be quite engaging. Like those two, Japanese pianist Hiromi Uehara defies my general attitude about this. Place to Be is her first solo piano release. To no surprise, it has as much vigor as her other releases.

The Telarc release is a musical documentary of Hiromi’s travels. Its title is an acknowledgement to fans, whose presence at her performance venues give her a place to be.

Hiromi debuted with Another Mind (Telarc, 2003). Since then, she’s earned several major awards, and has performed with such heavyweights as Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. Her Sonicbloom group includes guitarist Dave “Fuze” Fiuczynski, bassist Tony Grey and drummer Martin Valihora. With Sonicbloom, she plays electronic keyboard.

“BQE,” an abbreviation for Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, personifies the energy and movement of the route. Even to one who has never been there, the music creates a visual of fast-moving cars, headlights and taillights becoming a blur. Hiromi’s combination of speed and dexterity is captivating. Well into the piece, she plays a sweeping, orchestral passage. For a moment, one forgets she has only two hands.

“Sicilian Blue” recalls Hiromi’s visit to Sicily and the blue sky and the blue ocean, as well as beautiful streets. The selection moves from a free-spirited jaunt to a tranquil melody and later to a frolicking adventure.

“Island Azores” is a tribute to the area of Portugal, its people, the birds, ocean, land, animals -- everything. The ambient quality of this selection creates a vision of a place where everything is in harmony and everyone is happy.

“Viva! Vegas” captures the energy of the city, from show girls to daytime scenery to gamblers. At times, Hiromi plays like a saloon pianist from the Old West. Throughout, she’s clearly having fun. The playful nature of this piece is among the collection’s highlights.

Hiromi composed eight of the ten tracks on Place to Be. The two covers are “Berne, Baby, Berne!” by Louie Bellson and Remo Palmer, and “Pachelbel’s Canon.”

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