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Hiromi's hard-driving trio tops Bay Area jazz week

David Becker

Mixing one of the most dynamic and responsive acoustic pianists of her generation with a former fill-in for Keith Moon may seem at first glance to be a recipe for disastrous imbalance. Yet Hiromi and Simon Phillips somehow make it work.

Anchoring a new trio that adds a solid fusion tang to Hiromi's broadly expressive playing, Phillips (whose resume includes stints with The Who and Jeff Beck) gives the pianist a foundation to indulge her more down-and-dirty instincts yet knows when to get out of the way to allow the pianist's more delicate side to come through. Ably filled out by bassist Anthony Jackson, The Trio Project was an energetic surprise during its SFJAZZ Center run last year and promises no less when it returns this week. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday, with tickets from $25-$60.

Also worth noting on the Bay Area jazz scene this week:

  • Saxophonist Howard Wiley, a jazz natural who's been knocking 'em dead since high school, wrestles with Ornette Coleman's hugely influential "The Shape of Jazz to Come," 8 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday at SFJAZZ Center. $15-$20
  • Clarinetist Ben Goldberg, whose interests range from klezmer to avant jazz, ranges far and wide with his trio, 8 p.m. Saturday at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley. $12-$15
  • Guitarist Bruce Forman and his band, Cow Bop, play Western swing with an emphasis on swing, 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland. $15
  • Tierney Sutton, a singer with a grand voice and a musician's ear, focuses on the music of Joni Mitchell for a 4:30 p.m. Sunday show at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society near Half Moon Bay. $40
  • Grupo Falso Baiano mixes traditional Brazilian choro music with jazz and modern influences, 2 p.m. Sunday at Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland. $10-$15

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