On NPR Tiny Desk Concert, Hiromi Uncovers Sonic Wonders

The virtuosic jazz pianist and Berklee alum skitters across three keyboards and two new songs in a joyous funk-fusion performance.

September 11, 2023

It takes a second to realize that the first sounds you hear in the latest Tiny Desk concert are not a high-speed Tron-style sequencer, but in fact just Hiromi Uehara ’03 playing the keys very fast indeed. What unravels over the next 20-some minutes, though, is more than a showcase Hiromi's virtuosic dexterity across two keyboards and a grand piano—it's a celebration of pure musical joy.

Born in Hamatsu, Japan, Hiromi came to Berklee in 1999 to study jazz composition, and released her debut album, Another Mind, in 2003. Since then she has gained international acclaim, releasing 12 (soon to be 13) albums as bandleader and performing on numerous other projects, including jazz bassist Stanley Clarke's The Stanley Clarke Band, which earned her a Grammy Award in 2011.

Hiromi and her band, Hiromi's Sonicwonder, came to NPR's storied office-turned-tiny-venue to perform two new pieces from her forthcoming studio album, Sonicwonderland. And that title is fitting, as the players twist and turn through these arrangements like they're exploring every corner of some new terrain, finding sonic surprises under every stone.

"You can see how much fun Hiromi is having here, her beautiful smile beams as she rips her small but strong hands up and down multiple keyboards," said NPR's Suraya Mohamed. "She moves seamlessly between the three instruments, sometimes standing, sometimes sitting, sometimes dancing—always breathtaking."

Watch Hiromi's NPR Tiny Desk concert:

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