Hiromi's Sonicbloom to Play Boston's First Night Celebration

Nick Balkin
November 25, 2008
Photo by Muga Miyahara

International piano sensation Hiromi and her group Hiromi's Sonicbloom will play the Berklee Performance Center on New Year's Eve, kicking off NPR's annual worldwide broadcast, Toast of the Nation. The concert, a centerpiece performance of this year's Boston First Night celebration, will be Hiromi's first headlining appearance at Berklee since her 2003 graduation from the college.

Admission is by purchase of a First Night button. Hiromi's sets are at 8:00 p.m. (WGBH 89.7 broadcast), and 9:30 p.m. The Berklee Performance Center is at 136 Massachusetts Avenue. The evening's opening set, at 6:30 p.m., will feature the trio of pianist Lawrence Fields, a recent Berklee graduate, who has performed in the bands of jazz stars and Berklee alumni Terri Lyne Carrington, Branford Marsalis, and Jeff "Tain" Watts.

In the midst of a world tour, Hiromi will be performing selections from her latest CD for Telarc, Beyond Standard. Her band is composed of bassist Tony Grey and drummer Martin Valihora, both Berklee alumni, and faculty guitarist Dave Fiuczynski. To see recent performance footage, watch this video.

New Year's Eve 2008 marks the unprecedented fifth consecutive year that Berklee, WGBH Radio Boston, and NPR have collaborated to kick-off the live holiday special Toast of the Nation. Heard on more than 200 NPR affiliate stations and NPR Worldwide, Toast of the Nation begins in Boston and will move across the country, with live celebrations from Washington D.C., New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For local stations and broadcast times, visit npr.org/stations, with program information at npr.org/music/toastofthenation. Hosted by WGBH's Eric Jackson of Eric in the Evening, the concert can be heard locally on WGBH 89.7. Toast of the Nation is produced for NPR by WBGO-FM, Newark; the Boston portion of the broadcast is produced by WGBH Radio.

Born in Shizuoka, Japan, in 1979, Hiromi Uehara took her first piano lessons at age 6, and enrolled in the Yamaha School of Music less then a year later. By age 12, she was performing in public, sometimes with very high-profile orchestras. After a couple years of writing advertising jingles for Nissan and a few other high-profile Japanese companies, Hiromi came to the United States in 1999 to study at Berklee.

She first mesmerized the jazz community with her 2003 Telarc debut, Another Mind, which received the Recording Industry Association of Japan's (RIAJ) Jazz Album of the Year Award. Her second release, Brain, won the Horizon Award at the 2004 Surround Music Awards, among other honors. In 2006, Hiromi won Best Jazz Act at the Boston Music Awards and the Guinness Jazz Festival's Rising Star Award, and for her release, Spiral, she claimed jazzman, pianist, and album of the year honors in the Swing Journal Japan's Readers Poll. Hiromi continued her winning streak with the 2007 release of Time Control and in 2008, Beyond Standard. Both releases feature Hiromi's supergroup Sonicbloom. Visit hiromimusic.com.